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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Iain Shed­den

THE multi-task­ing Sarah Blasko con­tin­ues her or­ches­tral ride around the coun­try with a cou­ple of shows at Syd­ney Opera House on Sun­day and Mon­day. It won’t be long, how­ever, un­til one of her en­tourage de­parts the Blasko nest to fly, free as a bird, on his own and, more sur­pris­ingly, with­out his first name. Ben Fletcher, who brings his con­sid­er­able tal­ents on a va­ri­ety of in­stru­ments to Blasko’s live and recorded work, is set­ting out solo af­ter the Blasko tour, with a de­but al­bum, Upon Ayr, to be re­leased next month coin­cid­ing with a se­ries of shows to pro­mote it. Fletcher, once of the bands Blue­bot­tle Kiss and the De­voted Few, has spent two years of down­time from Blasko projects in var­i­ous parts of the world, in­clud­ing Lon­don, Syd­ney and Stock­holm, putting to­gether his al­bum, which takes its name from the west of Scot­land town of Ayr where, he tells us, the sur­name Fletcher was first recorded in Bri­tain. Ben, of course, is a more recog­nis­able word than Fletcher in the Scot­tish vo­cab­u­lary, with a va­ri­ety of mean­ings in­clud­ing ‘‘within’’, ‘‘par­lour’’ and ‘‘a really high moun­tain’’ (as in Ben Ne­vis). It seems the mu­si­cian isn’t so will­ing to be iden­ti­fied with any of those things, how­ever, and hence­forth shall be known only as Fletcher. That’s Fletcher. The artist for­merly known as Ben Fletcher. I reckon Ben would have had more legs, but what do I know? AC­TU­ALLY, here’s some­thing I know. Look­ing par­tic­u­larly pleased with him­self at the Mush­room Group 40th an­niver­sary party I men­tioned last week was Mel­bourne-based singer Dan Sul­tan, whose ca­reer ap­pears to be tak­ing a few dra­matic turns. Sul­tan, who is about to set off to the US for a se­ries of per­for­mances with the in­dige­nous col­lec­tive the Black Arm Band, has been build­ing his ca­reer slowly, with his sec­ond ARIA Award­win­ning in­de­pen­dent al­bum Get Out While You

Can at­tract­ing much at­ten­tion from the in­dus­try as well as the pub­lic. Now it ap­pears Sul­tan is up­ping his strat­egy for global star­dom, or at least more main­stream recog­ni­tion at home. Michael Gudin­ski took great plea­sure in an­nounc­ing Sul­tan’s sign­ing to Mush­room’s Lib­er­a­tion la­bel last week. Last year Sul­tan split with his long-time gui­tarist and song writ­ing part­ner Scott Wil­son and has also parted com­pany with man­ager Buzz Thompson. Michael Parisi, former Fes­ti­val Records man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, is now look­ing af­ter Sul­tan’s ca­reer. We can ex­pect to hear new (and ap­par­ently a lit­tle dif­fer­ent) mu­sic from Sul­tan later this year. WHAT a plea­sure it was to see Wally de Backer, ac­com­pa­nied by Kim­bra, take the cov­eted record of the year tro­phy at the Gram­mys on Mon­day (Aus­tralian time); and just as re­ward­ing to see how pleased he was to be pre­sented with the award by Prince, a man, said de Backer, who helped in­flu­ence him to be­come a mu­si­cian. De Backer’s success at the US awards, also tak­ing best pop duo per­for­mance and best alternative al­bum, was the cul­mi­na­tion of an amaz­ing 18 months for him, dur­ing which the singer turned his rel­a­tively mod­est Aus­tralian pop­u­lar­ity into global star­dom, sig­nif­i­cantly on the back of that song, Some­body that I Used to Know. Af­ter a long pe­riod of in­ter­na­tional tour­ing, the Vic­to­rian singer can look for­ward to some time off. De Backer, a mild-man­nered and slightly shy in­di­vid­ual, hasn’t al­ways looked com­fort­able with the level of fame that has be­fallen him in the past 12 months. One sus­pects there will be a long pe­riod away from the spot­light be­fore the fol­low-up to his win­ning al­bum Mak­ing Mir­rors ap­pears.


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