Black­bird

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Iain Shed­den

Dan Sul­tan

Lib­er­a­tion

MANY in the Aus­tralian mu­sic in­dus­try have said that Dan Sul­tan is a su­per­star in wait­ing, a ver­sa­tile per­former with a sexy stage pres­ence and a pow­er­ful voice whose suc­cess thus far has been hin­dered only by a lack of mar­ket­ing. All he needed, per­haps, was a leg up from a re­source­ful la­bel af­ter years of hon­ing his craft in­de­pen­dently.

This, then, the Mel­bourne singer’s third al­bum in eight years and his first for Lib­er­a­tion, should be that trans­for­ma­tive mo­ment. Cer­tainly in terms of pro­duc­tion it’s a step up from 2009’s Get Out While You Can, which nev­er­the­less earned him a cou­ple of ARIAs and raised his pro­file here and over­seas.

Black­bird is named af­ter the stu­dio in Nashville where it was recorded. It’s the work­ing en­vi­ron­ment of Amer­i­can pro­ducer Jac­quire King (Kings of Leon, Tom Waits) and he has done a fine job of pre­sent­ing Sul­tan’s ver­sa­tile voice in all of its guises. He takes the singer’s Stax-era soul croon on a pleas­ing out­ing for Ain’t

Think­ing About You and It Be­longs to Us, while his rock chops emerge on the open­ing Make Me Slip and High Street Riot. It’s the strik­ingly beau­ti­ful bal­lads No­body

Knows and Gullible Few that high­light best Sul­tan’s emo­tional depth.

This is Sul­tan’s first al­bum with­out col­lab­o­ra­tor Scott Wil­son. Sul­tan wanted to move on and has done so with other writ­ers and by pen­ning five of the 13 tracks him­self.

Black­bird plays to Sul­tan’s strengths as a per­former and there is much to like in the old­school styles he em­braces, but one might have ex­pected a few more risks in the writ­ing.

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