With his fifth release, Melbourne-by-way-of-Virginia artist Lucas Paine has stripped it back. Way back. In an effort to channel the simplicity of early folk music, Black Ram bears only Paine’s banjo and guitar, his voice, minimal accompaniment – a far cry from his last cut, which while sparse and spacious, swelled with a warm fullness.
Not to say these songs aren’t effective. While a couple are let down by Paine’s voice, which doesn’t seem as solid as it’s been previously, they’re strong in their simplicity, their basic form keeping true to their inspiration, coming together to create what is a mournful paean to life lived and lost, what true folk music is all about. There’s more than a nod to country music inherent to Paine’s music as well, his upbringing in wide-open, ‘big sky’ parts of the US obvious in the odd twang here and there, the way he phrases his music.
Where Paine shines though is in his songwriting. Not going for overtly vivid imagery, his strength lies in the simple and true; you feel the honesty seeping from songs like ‘Black Ram Shuffle’ and ‘Wings Of Rusty Knives’. He cuts to the quick, the results taking you back in time.
Samuel J. Fell