Heart Of The Rat Records
When Melbourne singer-songwriter Brendan Welch’s debut LP, The Gleaner, first appeared in 2009, it heralded the arrival of another strong songwriter and arranger. It followed two EPs – The Unbeat and That Ghost, the former of which scored a bit of Triple J play – but it was the full-length offering that really showcased Welch’s talent.
Earlier this year, The Gleaner scored a re-release through the Ballarat-based Heart Of The Rat Records, on vinyl no less, a little gem rediscovered and pushed back into the zeitgeist, destined to rekindle the acclaim it garnered six years ago.
The record certainly has a country bent to it, and within that framework is where Welch mainly works, covering a fair bit of ground. The lilting ‘Think I’d Always Thought (I’d Fall In Love With You)’ begins proceedings, his voice strong, which sets the scene for the rest of the album.
Tracks like ‘With A Steady Hand’ up the tempo, more of an outlaw country sort of thing, the momentum slowing with ‘Run While You Still Can’, its tinkling ivories recalling both some old saloon somewhere, as well as strains of the blues, before Welch’s voice comes in and swings it gently back toward Nashville.
‘If Only I Could Know You Then’ showcases some tasty guitar, lazy and hard-driving, and for me, it’s these moments that stand tall; that almost stoner-rock style of country music. Welch’s voice on this particular track brings to mind a clearer-voiced Neil Young.
Overall, this is a record which should have received even more attention than it did upon initial release. Going back to it, particularly on vinyl, has been almost a revelation – this is a great album, it stands tall as an example of not only what Welch is capable of, but of the world-class Americana that’s been coming out of Melbourne for years now. To my mind then, Welch should be thinking very much about a follow-up. More of this sort of thing certainly would not go astray. Samuel J. Fell
Rope Tied Hope
Lucky Buck Records
Joshua Seymour is, when not in solo mode, the guitar and mandolin player for Melbourne Americana outlaws Cherrywood. Here, he steps out on his own for the first time, a collection of earthy, real songs penned over his time tripping about the place, recorded in Argyle, Texas – the results are solid.
Ranging from introspective piano-led ballads (‘Carry It Home’), to carefree finger-snappers (‘Nothing To Me Now’, ‘Don’t Wait Up’), to red-dirt country numbers (‘Two Or Few’), it is at its heart an Americana album, but there’s a distinct Australian bent to it. It shimmers slowly like heat haze, the stories are of experiences both true and fictional, told in a comfortable and honest way, recalling images of home, Australia, the other red-dirt place.
Seymour is a songwriter who’s growing fast. This is a good start, I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next. Samuel J. Fell