Red Dirt — Red Heart Russell Morris Chugg Music
The music people associate with particular backdrops is a personal thing, driven by a combination of precedents built up by musicians and individual experience. As a Sandgroper who has experienced more than a little red dust, the music I associate with the outback includes country, folk, ambient and even Pink Floyd (thanks to a 1970s West Australian tourism promotion) but, oddly, not the blues. So there was a need for a mind reset when it came to Red Dirt — Red Heart, the conclusion to Russell Morris’s Australia-inspired blues trilogy.
This was particularly so when the up-tempo shuffle of opening track Cut You Loose screamed urban speakeasy rather than sunburnt country and Moondyne Joe emerged as jarringly different to the much-loved Mucky Duck folk song. It’s the slower, more atmospheric numbers such as Kadaitcha Man, Tiger Snake and Nullarbor Sand that lend themselves best to the subject matter of bushrangers, blackfellas and the shimmering red heat of a spinifex-covered desert.
Pemulwuy and Alice also do the trick, while some quintessential travelling music is provided by the album’s jaunty single, Lonesome Road.
There’s a guest spot by Aussie blues legend Phil Manning and some nice harp by Chris Wilson underpinning the talented efforts of guitarist Shannon Bourne, drummer Adrian Violi and bassist-keyboardist Mitch Cairns, who also produced, mixed and engineered the album.
Morris was deluged with accolades for Sharkmouth and Van Diemen’s Land. His friend and promoter Michael Chugg describes this as “a wonderful conclusion to an amazing trilogy’’. He would say that, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.