|Dimensions||21 × 15 × 1.0 cm|
CD Review by Chris Spencer
Watling & Bates are a “down home” duo, comprising, Kym Watling and Geoff Bates, who originate from Unumgar, NSW.
I had to google that town, it’s close to the Border Ranges National Park on Highway B91!
Their Facebook page describes them as “old time gothic hillbilly honkytonk”.
Their webpage relates their music “original tunes (that) draw on old time country traditions”.
Their only other previous release was a 5 track ep, released in 2014.
Both are multi-instrumentalists, playing fiddle, banjo, guitar, harmonica, recorder and bass.
Both members of the duo also write and sing.
In general, they sing their own compositions, although in a one off instance, Geoff sings from a female perspective, “Small Town Tales”, but it’s only a line.
We get to meet some of the locals – Frank, Florence, Barry, Adrienne (who find love the 2nd time around), Grandma and Dick Mason.
Their songs tell of events that are typical of small rural towns, such as the title track, although its theme is more about the different worlds young people move in these days, connected by technology.
There’s a song about unexplained mysteries, which most communities can tell you about someone who went missing or something untoward happened to them (“In the Dead of Night”).
“Ciderville” is a song about relationships.
“The Train was Leaving” and “Worring About my Time” are about confidence and one’s place in life (all three written and sung by Watling).
The two short tunes, “Poppy’s Tune” and “Minus Three”, help break up the pattern of the album, as do the two waltzes, “Florence Met Frank” and “Barry and Adrienne”.
There are a couple of delightful observations: “They say each dog has his day, well I’m sure a dog had mine” (Watling, “Wondering About my Time”), or “Small town boy, tall as a fencepost, sharp as a hammer, He’s all wind and noise” (Bates: “Small Town Tales”).
“Old Times” is given the bluegrass treatment and weaves well known figures in the industry in its lyrics.
“Sat in the car and Remembered” tells of the demise of small towns across Australia as their inhabitants leave for greener pastures or employment.
The production by, Thor Phillips, is never overbearing, allowing the vocals and simple instrumentation to be prominent, although at times the sound affects sound a bit twee, such as a rooster crowing, horses hooves or the sounds of a crowd.
5 in stock