Amer­i­cana

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

El­e­men­tary Car­ni­val Blues Adam Young Stan­ley/MGM

On ini­tial ex­po­sure, El­e­men­tary Car­ni­val Blues may be heard as an ex­tended love song to out­back Aus­tralia, the kind that hasn’t been de­liv­ered with such con­vic­tion since Slim Dusty backed Old Pur­ple into the garage that last time.

It doesn’t con­tain sto­ries so much as var­ied mu­si­cal emo­tions but they lov­ingly and know­ingly seem to cap­ture the flies in your eyes, the dust in your throat and the deep, deep long­ing in your heart with ti­tles such as Breeza and Queen of the Plains. Then, af­ter you fac­tor in the knowl­edge that Adam Young was raised in Canada and his home coun­try is ref­er­enced in a cou­ple of songs, in­clud­ing Wolfe Is­land Blues, the wide open spa­ces cre­ate dif­fer­ent im­ages in your mind but the ef­fect re­mains the same. This is mu­sic that art­fully leaves room for the lis­tener to add time, place and their own per­sonal de­tail.

Set aside the ge­og­ra­phy and al­low Young to take you on a 10-track jour­ney. This one-time mem­ber of rock out­fits Daisy­grinders and Big Heavy Stuff has turned things down con­sid­er­ably and forged an al­bum of rock­ing coun­try that’s loaded with agree­able tunes, al­ways in­ter­est­ing pick­ing and solid sup­port from hand-picked guests.

Slim’s gui­tarist Jeff Mercer is heard on a cou­ple of tracks while Emma Swift makes her pres­ence felt most while soar­ing on the closer Rac­ing Trains. Song­writer Ja­son Walker adds gui­tar and pedal steel on sev­eral tracks and ris­ing tal­ent on the lo­cal Amer­i­cana scene Katie Bri­anna is heard to great ef­fect on two duets. The pair blend beau­ti­fully on the dream­like The New West and of­fer an ap­pro­pri­ate weari­ness on end-of-theroad tale Bluer Skies.

Young dis­plays his in­flu­ences quite ob­vi­ously and boldly (Un­cle Tu­pelo, REM, Neil Young, Tom Petty and Spring­steen read­ily come to mind) and it’s no sur­prise that with such solid in­spi­ra­tion Young will place such em­pha­sis on clas­sic song­writ­ing. The ar­range­ments are as var­ied as could be ex­pected from an al­bum that was three years in the mak­ing and up to 20 years in the writ­ing.

Young may not quite have found his own voice yet but that does not di­min­ish the plea­sure to be found in his broad mu­si­cal pal­ette. And how could you not love an al­bum that con­tains the line, “Oh Breeza, you call me”? Lis­ten closely and you can al­most hear JJ Cale chuck­ling.

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