South­ern Hemi­sphere

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Polly Coufos

8 Ball Aitken

MGM

THE upside to 8 Ball Aitken’s hard slog in scratch­ing to make a liv­ing as a truly in­de­pen­dent mu­si­cian this past decade is that he hasn’t had to please any­body but him­self. Along the way, the now US-based Aitken has taken his most ob­vi­ous in­flu­ences, in­clud­ing the swampy blues of Tony Joe White and the coun­try side of Neil Young, and forged some­thing with al­bum No 7 that stands as his own. At last he has made a record­ing that matches the en­ergy and sense of fun of his live per­for­mances.

The lanky redhead may have taken the long way and his own sweet time but fi­nally he has ar­rived. Recorded in Nashville and Bris­bane,

South­ern Hemi­sphere is filled with rock­ing coun­try blues and Aitken has cre­ated songs strong enough to hang on their play­ful ti­tles and rous­ing cho­ruses. He can deliver a punch­line with a sure touch, no doubt the re­sult of singing for his sup­per night af­ter night. (She’s go­ing to

Mex­ico and) I’m Go­ing to Jail is a story song about an un­wit­ting bank rob­ber that continues to deliver the laughs play af­ter play. It also landed Aitken with the No 1 spot on the Coun­try Tracks chart. Pol­i­tics of a One Man Band and A

Gig is a Gig (“The sign be­hind the bar told me the world isn’t fair, it said, ‘Men no shirt, no ser­vice, Women, no shirt, free beer’ ”) keeps his lar­rikin spirit alive. Add to that some twisted sci fi ( De­stroy­ing

the World), a gor­geous bal­lad ( My Tank’s On Empty) and Old Hick­ory, a blis­ter­ing gui­tar in­stru­men­tal that finds the rowdy, rough edges of Aitken’s pick­ing be­ing beau­ti­fully com­ple­mented by the more re­fined touch of Troy Cas­sar-Da­ley, and you have the re­lease that ob­servers hoped Aitken had in him.

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