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.