Dark Side

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

The Back­slid­ers

Fuse THOSE labour­ing un­der the mis­ap­pre­hen­sion that the blues are one-di­men­sional and hack­neyed, mu­si­cally and lyri­cally, can’t have heard the Back­slid­ers. The Syd­ney band led by singer-song­writer-bot­tle­neck gui­tar stylist Dom Turner has been ped­dling blues of all hues for the best part of 30 years. The 13th Back­slid­ers’ long-player fea­tures twin har­mon­ica aces Brod Smith and Ian Col­lard and the re­united Mid­night Oil combo of drum­mer Rob Hirst and key­boardist-bassist Jim Moginie. The al­bum main­tains an en­vi­able his­tory of re­defin­ing, re­fin­ing and di­ver­si­fy­ing the genre, dur­ing which Turner has taken the 12-bar for­mat to its bound­aries and be­yond. Dark Side starts with a slab of trade­mark wall-of-sound blues that, as the ti­tle prom­ises, casts a glance at the Dark Side of New­town through the leader’s fa­mil­ial con­nec­tions and some colourful lo­cal par­lance: “Make a pound note bet at a dish licker meet/Watch the coat-tug­ger lose if it’s a dead­heat.” Mid-set, in stripped-back mode with more evoca­tive gui­tar and har­mon­ica play­ing in Six­ties

Girl and House on the Cor­ner, Turner casts more back­ward glances. Chang­ing tack in Phone Cap

Blues, he cas­ti­gates a 21st-century an­noy­ance to the jaunty back­drop of old-style acous­tic coun­try blues. In the folkie Light on Tonight, Turner pays trib­ute to Ca­jun leg­ends the Balfa Broth­ers while rem­i­nisc­ing about a trip to New Or­leans. Else­where, he puts a sub­tle new spin on Jesse Fuller and Skip James clas­sics.

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