|Dimensions||21 × 15 × 1.5 cm|
Jeff Aschmann The Alternative Country Road
Aschmann is a competent songwriter writing in the country genre and has a pleasant voice. He’s been around for awhile, although I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing him live at any folk venues. On the surface, the title of this album might imply a ploy to catch the current wave of interest in alternate and environment issues with songs about aboriginal themes (“Keepers of the Land”, “Dreamtime Christmas”) and rural themes (“Woman off the Land”, “Country Lady”). However track 13, “El Nino”, was first recorded back in 1999 suggesting that Jeff has been including songs of substance in his repertoire for around a decade. Other tracks that tackle environmental issues are “Woodchip Chipmill”, “Black Gold” about coal mining and “Pine for Eucalypt”.
There’s a bit of light relief with a song about the family horse (“Ode to Pokey”) The album kicks off with a ditty about a “Penrith Princess”, with a cute melody and a la la chorus, followed by the album’s first waltz, “I Envy Lovers” about lost love. Track 3, “Woman of the Land” is perhaps the most overt country song using traditional country instrumentation and one of the stronger songs. On this song, Aschmann utilises a female co vocalist to sing alternate verses, a ruse that works well as it adds variety to the sound of the album. W (Wendy?) Ford is credited as the vocalist on this track, and she appears as a background singer on three other tracks. “Keepers of the Land” is a slower number, featuring the didgeridoo as does “Dreamtime Christmas” but the latter makes better use of rhythm sticks to provide a stark contrast to the vocals.
Jeff has a pleasant voice, and writes almost pretty melodies – as highlighted on “Drunken Words” or “Deua River Dance” but I appreciated more his arrangements of laid back, (simple in most cases) accompaniment that add interest and embellish his songs. I thought the a cappella first verse of “Woodchip Chipmill” worked well and could have been extended further into the song, which reminded me of the work of Mook Hanley. Perhaps Aschmann could include some of Hanley’s work on future albums or in his live performances. However, Jeff has delayed the best til last, the strongest track on the album being “El Nino”. It’s reggae-ish lilting beat is contrasted by haunting pan pipes.
I look forward to hearing more of Aschmann’s work in the future.
15 in stock