Roots

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Steve Creedy

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.

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