It's not clear if Neil Murray had trouble seeing the forest from trees on his trek on the banks of the Hopkins River from the mouth to source.

You see - us farmers downstream have planted so many natives they keep walkers on their toes while electric fences dissuade the Friesian sheilas from learning to swim.

But give credit to Murray - when he writes a song he does his research.

He made the 150 kilometres stroll from Warrnambool to his family farm near Lake Bolac before writing Where My People Go for his seventh album.

Murray, Shane Howard and indigenous country acts such as Andy Alberts have long bridged the racial divide on the Shipwreck Coast with music - not vacuous rhetoric.

Don't get the impression the dozen songs are all social comment - Get Back To The Country has a strong message for down under dreamers who believe L A is a launch pad.

Murray's character heads south to Austin and reinvents and re-launches himself with a rootsy missile that carpet bombs the charts.


The singer covers a lot of territory, geographically and metaphorically, from entrée With You Tonight - inspired by CB chatter of lovelorn outback road train jockeys - to The Lights Of Hay.

The latter song, sourced by slow trip to a Nymagee festival, segues into Drifting Ways where Murray evacuates a Darwin bound bus and turns pub talk into Peter Denahy's fiddle driven lament.

And he proves more adept than pop peers at morphing homeland locales into credible imagery - especially on Meet Me In Bedourie, with more help from Denahy and pedal steel ace Garrett Costigan, and the bittersweet mean Streets of Bourke.

The singer evokes pathos in paternal paean You'll Have To Follow - a homily about his agrarian sire's advice as he succumbed to cancer in 2003.

It's a compliment to Murray and co-producer Siiri Metsar they transformed a serious subject into a rollicking celebration of life, driven by Stephen Teakle's accordion.

There's a melodic echo of Shane Howard's organic cut of his Talk Of The Town.

Murray covers all shades of love from paternal pride in I Can Go and the road driven long distance absence in Once In A While and Key To My Heart - maybe a sibling of the late Doug Sahm song with the plural name.

Now, does this have commercial appeal as well as artistic success?

Well, accessible country instrumentation ensures that - although finale Sing The Song suffers from strained vocals.

But this week in Tamworth neath the shadows of the Australiana clan that won't be an issue.

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