folk/rock

Not Here for a Hair­cut Rough Red Rough Mu­sic/MGM ★★★ ✩

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

THEY’RE a mix­ture of clean­skin and vin­tage claret. Rough Red com­bines the stri­dency of Aus­tralian folk-rock leg­ends Redgum and the nos­tal­giae­vok­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of Wed­dings Par­ties Any­thing with the sen­si­bil­i­ties of bal­ladeer Eric Bogle. In Not

Here for a Hair­cut, the vet­eran quin­tet’s sixth stu­dio al­bum in 18 years, tales of love and war, hap­pi­ness and sad­ness sit next to fa­bles about femmes fa­tales, homages to national trea­sures and sto­ries of sor­ties over­seas. Lead­ing the way is the band’s word­smith and ro­bust chief vo­cal­ist, John Fe­gan. In the jaunty I Wanna Be a Pi­rate, via pi­rat­i­cal ref­er­ences, he ad­vo­cates toss­ing in suburbia and job se­cu­rity for a more ad­ven­tur­ous life­style: ‘‘ Six­teen men on a dead man’s chest / If it feels good, do it and for­get the rest.’’ A track later, in the gen­tle bal­lad Like a Tree, to an­other fine melody crafted by part­ner-in-rhyme/stringed in­stru­men­tal­ist Steve Tyson, he’s ‘‘ stand­ing stripped and bare for ev­ery­one to see’’. In They

Laid Old Ned to Rest To­day, Fe­gan’s words ex­hume the bush ranger’s clar­ion call: ‘‘ We read your man­i­festo, Ned hung on ev­ery word / A de­fi­ant cry for jus­tice still wait­ing to be heard.’’ In

Bro­phy’s Trav­el­ling Boxing Show, the writer vividly catches a lost slice of ru­ral Aus­tralian life with word econ­omy: ‘‘ Satur­day night, red dirt town / Low­ered Hold­ens cruis­ing around’’ and

‘‘ Bund­aberg Rum at the B&S / Rented suit and a cock­tail dress’’. In Josephine, an ode to a lady of the night, he gets down and dirty —‘‘Around the wharves of Wool­loomooloo / Where the sailors go to booga­loo’’ — with spicy metaphors: ‘‘ She’ll splice your main brace and cut your jib / Leave you jelly-legged like a squid’’.

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