Well-travelled troubadour Luke O'Shea indulges in biblical passion on the entrée title track of his fourth CD.

Teacher O'Shea comes from the old school where fear of God was a weary weapon wielded to ensure paternal wishes were obeyed.

So his character rebels with relish.

"I feasted on the fattened calf and set about my chores/ I swore away my sinning and all my wicked, wicked ways/ see I'm trying to be the good son but I was not made that way."

But, like a lot of lusty lads tempted by sins of the flesh, the singer's character reaches back a generation and sings of the trusty courting of grandparents at community HQ - the town hall - in Pride of Erin.

It's here that time travel in waltz mode, embroidered by Gary Steel's accordion and Tony O'Neill's fiddle, deliver us to a simpler era and sense of community we rarely revisit in the cities except in times of crisis.

Like right now.

But O'Shea and co-producer Phil Doublet wrote this and biblical finale Motel Room where "the bible in the drawer holds the promise of so much more."


Characters in O'Shea's songs are not all sinners but the promiscuous princess in Maria and giant slayer in Covet Thy Neighbours Wife writhe as little escapes the small town lens.

But Maria, name checked in many country songs, doesn't see herself as a victim - "a little rough around the edges, no white picket fences/ but honey I'm still a diamond/ uncut and unpolished/ but I'm alive with the knowledge."

It's a sibling song of Rosemarie's Eyes where a single mother has no self pity - "see I've got much to give, Lord/ I've got so much to live for/ and I pray one day I'll find/ a man who'll see what's behind Rosemarie's eyes."

O'Shea's research is not confined to vignettes inspired by barroom Rosemaries.

Materialism and worldly possessions are no passport to heaven in How Well Have You Loved?

O'Shea's strength is the credible characters that he creates - the truckie with not his long suffering wife on the dashboard but Elvis and Slim - in Rig.

And pathos primed Annie O'Shea where the city woman finds love with one of two brothers on 1200 river bend acres at Boggabri but meets her Waterloo as her shearer husband dies of a stroke and she's stranded on a railway station with two children and the toughest decision of her life.

O'Shea praises Sam Phillips and roots music pioneers in Midnight Train (Days Of Sun) and tills a weather metaphor for love in Good Thing It's Raining.

But there's no metaphor - just constant drought - that forces a fifth generation farmer to walk off the land in Shadow Of A Cloud (The Ballad Of Swan Hill) and then deliver summary justice to a banker in a fatal farm foreclosure in riveting Bushranger.

It's country music at its best - powerful narratives drive the train on an accessible soundscape where the music never muffles the message.

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