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In the Days When the World was Wide The Dar­ling Downs Fuse ★★★★

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews -

MU­SIC’S mid­dle ages are prov­ing to be fer­tile and re­ward­ing (for the lis­tener at least) for at least one pair of Aus­tralian al­ter­na­tive fig­ures. Died Pretty’s Ron S. Peno and the Sci­en­tists’ Kim Salmon have just re­leased their third al­bum as the Dar­ling Downs and it is a work of re­mark­able, if some­what craggy, beauty. The pair met when their bands were big in Syd­ney and hooked up just over 10 years ago in Melbourne to record the first of the DD col­lab­o­ra­tions. The first two re­leases were cel­e­brated but this one lifts the ante con­sid­er­ably. Peno took the name from a col­lec­tion of Henry Law­son sto­ries given to him by his brother when he was a school­boy and it’s a telling start­ing point. The pair have found a dis­tinctly Aus­tralian place with this record­ing. Song­writer col­lab­o­ra­tions can pro­duce, at their worst, a your song-my song record­ing that doesn’t hang to­gether, but In the

Days When the World Was Wide is seam­less and con­sid­er­ably more than the sum of its parts. There’s magic that hap­pens when Peno and Salmon get to­gether, but when it comes to record­ing there’s a clear di­vi­sion: Ron sings ev­ery­thing and Kim plays ev­ery­thing (gui­tar, banjo, bass). Track one, Saved, clucks out of the chook shed be­fore Peno’s el­e­gant vo­cals and ur­gent pop stylings es­tab­lish that this ain’t no hill­billy thing — ad­di­tional pi­ano from Julitha Ryan and some great bass play­ing con­trib­ute to this brief but bril­liant pop-coun­try-soul song. For­ever Night and I Don’t Care are del­i­cate and yearn­ing; Wish You Were Her is an Ex­ile on Main St stomp; and Be­tween the For­est and the Trees serves up strange acous­tic power pop with a won­der­ful groove. Hell, it’s all good and verg­ing on an Aus­tralian clas­sic.

Peter Lalor

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