|Dimensions||21 × 15 × 1 cm|
CD review by Ian Dearden
My curiosity was peeked when this album landed in my in-tray for review.
It’s an album chock full of Australian traditional songs and contemporary Australian songs ‘in the tradition’, but recorded and released back in 2002, in London.
There has to be a story.
Thanks to the interwebs and courtesy of that fine research assistant, Dr Google, I now know much more than I did.
And I can share it with you.
Doug Jenner is a singer, fiddler, guitarist, bouzoukist and dance caller from Australia, who has lived in the UK and France for more than 20 years.
His long history in folk music in Australia includes stints with with Sydney Irish bands, The Emigrants, Cean Eile, The Gingermen, Janey Mack, The Irish Drovers and Claddagh, and bush bands, Australian Heritage, Shearer’s Dream and Ned’s Revenge.
More recently, in the UK, Doug has been presenting Voice of a New Nation with Martyn Wyndham-Read, a reworked version of Chris Kempster’s original Lawson show.
In and around all that, Doug has performed around Europe with Buckley’s Chance, the backing musicians on this album.
And so, to the album, which has a fine choice of songs, some familiar and some less so.
The album opener is a rousing reading of Chris Kempster’s version of the Lawson poem, ‘Freedom on the Wallaby’, immediately followed by John Dengate’s tribute to his mum’s childhood, ‘Bare Legged Kate’.
Recorded live at the Nottingham Riverside Festival, ‘Denis O’Reilly’, is another classic bush ballad given a resounding performance.
Stan Wakefield’s, ‘The Rabbiter’s Song’, is a light hearted economic analysis of life at the bottom of the food chain.
‘Home Again and Free’ is an original from Doug, placing his expat heart clearly in Australia, even if his home is elsewhere.
Then we get delightful versions of Geoff Mack’s classic, ‘I’ve Been Everywhere Man’ (best known in Australia courtesy of Lucky Starr, but localised cover versions pop up all over the world), another Lawson poem, ‘The Outside Track’, with music by Gerry Hallom, John Dengate’s, ‘The TAB Punter’s Song’ (which should be mandatory listening at every betting establishment in the country), and the final song, ‘If Hearts Are Stone’, a fascinating rewrite by Doug of the Moving Hearts classic, ‘Irish Ways Irish Laws’, calling for reconciliation with Australia’s First Nations people.
As a long-time fan of the original, I can report that Doug has done a fine and moving job with his rewrite.
For anyone looking for songs from and in the Australian bush tradition, this album is a delightful introduction to the genre.
6 in stock (can be backordered)