“The waves and tide push me to the gorge/ so I summon my courage and all of my might/ but the strength of my body has been lost in the night.” - A Shipwrecked's Lament - Nick Payne-Lyn Taylor.

When Sydney singer-songwriter Nick Payne sourced reality rooted narratives for his debut solo album he travelled the nation to flesh out his tales.

They included protracted pit-stops at locales diverse as the M1 freeway north of Sydney, beaches north of Noosa, Kinchega National Park, Cunningham Highway through Boonah and Main Range National Park, Snowy Mountains, Victorian high country and historic Loch Ard Gorge beneath the Great Ocean Road on the Victorian Shipwreck Coast.

His debut single Old Sydney Town circa 1789 was adorned by a live video featured on Nu Country TV on May 30, 2015, and followed by the title track second release - both set in distant history.

We'll stay in the past and examine A Shipwrecked's Lament - penned by Payne and partner Lyn Taylor.

It's loosely based on the clipper ship Loch Ard that ran aground offshore from Port Campbell almost a century later on nearby Muttonbird Island on June 1, 1878, near the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne.

In the open ended Payne-Taylor tune there appear to be no survivors - a fate like many doomed ships that inspired diverse folk and country songs including Dead Livers hit Holy Mary .

It was also locale of scenes in 1982 Pirate Movie, 1999 TV series Journey to the Centre of the Earth with Treat Williams and finish line for the third series of the Amazing Race Australia.

The gorge is about three kilometres north-west of the 12 Apostles where Florida Georgia Line filmed their video for huge hit H.O.L.Y. during their March tour with Georgian Jason Aldean.

Ironically, the number of fatalities off-shore is now challenged by the plethora of foreign tourist losing their lives and vehicles seeking Apostles and selfies on the Great Ocean Road.

Meanwhile back to the song subject - the drowning of 52 of the 54 passengers on the Loch Ard.

Only two survived - Tom Pearce, a 15 year-old ship apprentice, and Irishwoman Eva Carmichael, emigrating with her family at just 17.

Pearce was washed ashore, rescued Carmichael from the water and revived her with brandy after hearing her cries for help.

The apprentice then climbed out of the gorge to raise the alarm to local sheep and dairy farmers who launched a rescue attempt.

Four Carmichael family members drowned that night and three months later Eva returned to Europe.

Pearce was hailed a hero and lived until he was 49 and is buried in Southampton, England.

“After they get back to Melbourne their stories are so famous that Tom wins a bravery award and everyone thinks they will fall in love and happily ever after,” Payne revealed.

“Alas, Eva hightails it back home to Ireland and they never see each other again.”


“I'll give a little more and then some/ you better sleep with one eye open/ I got 18 tonnes of truck coming through/ if you wanna be my memory.” - Enemy - Nick Payne-Karl Broadie.

Sadly, tragedy is not confined to the song sources.

Payne dedicates his album to expat Scot singer-songwriter Karl Broadie who died at 44 of cancer on April 19.

The singer wrote “without his inspiration this never would have happened. Farewell my beautiful brother”.

That was after they wrote Enemy for the album's A side that is named Salvation Jane - the B side is Paterson's Curse .

My year working for the Albury Border Morning Mail in 1969 involved writing about damage the purple weed, known by both names, inflicted on local crops.

But a different curse inspired Enemy.

Enemy is a modern day urban civil war where two families have been fighting with each other for so long they have forgotten what the whole thing is about,” Payne explained.

“The high point is when the song's protagonist threatens to drive an 18 tonne semi-trailer through the bedroom of his enemy. The track was recorded live in one take.”

Payne divides the album into side A where songs are set in the present with contemporary instruments - drums, electric guitar, bass, piano.

The songs on side B are set in the past with traditional, acoustic instrumentation - acoustic guitar, double bass, banjo, fiddle and Dobro.

Every song is part of a pair with the equivalent positioned song on the flip side.

So the first song on side A - trucking tale White Line Fever , penned with Benn Gunn, is paired with the first song on side B Old Sydney Town and they share the theme of hardship.

The themes across all songs are hardship, revenge, death, repose, loss, and salvation.

That means the other trucking tune Enemy is a bed-mate of historic equestrian tale Rising River under the revenge theme.

I'll leave mix and match making to readers.

Suffice to say the death songs - the land-locked The Last Bend and sea faring shanty Never Had A Sweetheart do not end happily.

But loss song My Darling Kate featuring Katie Brianna and penned with Katie Garfoot is a lament while album finale Peace Tonight features co-writer Megan Cooper and is a salvation song featuring Highett hombre Andrew Wrigglesworth of The Weeping Willows on telecaster.

Payne produced the album with partner Lyn Taylor of the Dear Orphans bluegrass band who provide acoustic backing on the B side and Melbourne band The Wildes feature on the A side.

So what does Payne, who grew up in Sydney but has lived in Wollongong, Dalby in Queensland and Gold Coast, do when not on the road sourcing his songs and performing?

“I'm a computer nerd working for an online travel insurance company,” confessed Payne whose album cover photo of iconic Willow Tree Truck Stop south of Tamworth was taken by Taylor.

Nick promoted his album at the Nimbin Roots Festival after the Sister City Jam in September at the George Jones Museum in Nashville during the Americana Music Festival.

He also performs Fleurieu Folk Festival south of Adelaide at Willunga from October 22-24.

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