Despite the changing face of country music in America, I think that Australia is in a boom period of great young and not so young singer/songwriters in the country music genre. Heading the male contingent of the new era are five incredible artists: Luke O’Shea, Bob Corbett, Darren Colston, Shane Nicholson and the subject of this review, Lachlan Bryan. I have had the pleasure and the privilege of seeing Lachlan with and without the Wildes quite a few times now. Either way, it has always been a great experience and I have come away from the gigs feeling a mixture of emotions, as Lachlan’s songwriting makes you think and feel, sometimes wonder, sometimes smile and the words always make you want to return to hear another view….if that makes sense. Lachlan’s songs are like a good old movie. You can watch and listen to it many times and every time you spot something different. Like Shane’s songs, they work on several levels. The songs sound country as, but there is no way that you could play the records backwards and get the dog, the truck, the girl and the whiskey back. What is lost and never to be retrieved is a bit deeper than that.
Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes have a sound that is often described as Americana or Alternative Country but it is a lot of things. Of the 79 types of country music, Lachlan and The Wildes cover about ten types. They can rock it, blues it, swamp it, ballad it, romance it, celtic it, etc.
On some songs here, they channel Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Townes van Zandt, Gram Parsons, Rodney Crowell and many other performers of all different genres. In the end, it is Lachlan and his WIldes, absorbing it all, mixing it all up into one fabulous blend.
Afraid of the Light: Great start to the album. Twisting a line is something that Lachlan does so well.
The Mountain: Title track. Good to see that he has held onto his horn section from Tamworth! Or at least the idea of it. Cross between Van Morrison and Billy Joel with that Lachlan touch. Some great lines.
The Secret I’ll take to my grave: When I heard Lachlan first sing this song at a gig, it became my second favourite Lachlan song. There is no way in the world that anyone could hate this song, it is pretty near perfect.
The King and I: Cool rocky number about you know who and you know what. Get up on the dance floor and do the “Swim”.
I don’t make the rules: Cool bluesy song with some great lines and guitar work.
Dugdemona: One of Lachlan’s infamous darker moments. There’s always a few….he does it so well.
A Long Way to Fall: Only Lachlan could sing a line like: “Don’t try to meet me half way, it’s a long way to fall.” Or “A heart like yours takes time to break but I am working as fast as I can”. You can listen to Lachlan’s songs and hear a sweet song, then you listen to them and discover that they are not so sweet at all, but that is the beauty and the quality of them.
Travelling Companion: You can really smell the highway with this one. Close your eyes and see the lights coming down the road, trucks going by, hours of loneliness on a forgotten track.
Fool for Love: The melody is soothing but the words aren’t. A lot of Lachlan’s songs have that inbuilt irony. Great song.
View from the bridge: I’ve listened to this song about five times and I am getting different things from it each time. I don’t think that it ends happily. Amazing vocals on this one.
‘Til we meet again: A very hummable almost happy tune with sad lyrics….though ones tinged with hope.
Gin and Tonic (Bonus track) – First he gives me my favourite kind of coffee, Black Coffee, then he gives me my fave summer drink: Gin and Tonic. He can be my bartender any day. An upbeat, bluesy song that would go down well in New Orleans.
Downloading from Itunes, you miss the liner notes and the credits. I have a pretty good idea about the bv’s and the writing credits are quintessentially Lachlan, though I am sure that I can detect a few familiar co-writes on there too.
In the end, it doesn’t matter. What you have here is probably Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes’ finest effort, and since I own and love all of their albums, it is a big call. It has been a long awaited and extremely gratefully received new album. The songs are all quite fresh and different, though they all have that Lachlan touch which very few others can replicate.
The future of Australian country music is in good hands and Lachlan Bryan and his Wildes are up there with an elite gang leading the pack.
They have already made some inroads overseas. No doubt, that will continue.
There may be a few more steps to the top of the mountain, but in my eyes, they are already there.