DIARY - 15 JANUARY 2008 - NEIL MURRAY CD REVIEW
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
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
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
There's a melodic echo of Shane Howard's organic cut of his Talk Of
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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