Roots

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

Gilded Blair Dun­lop Gilded Wings/Planet

Blair Dun­lop’s third al­bum in four years rat­i­fies a rise up the ranks for a pedi­greed and pro­lific young singer-song­writer. Recorded as live with back­line sup­port, Gilded nudges the Brit closer to ra­dio-friendly pop ter­ri­tory while re­tain­ing folk roots in­her­ited from a fa­ther (Ash­ley Hutch­ings) who co-founded Fair­port Con­ven­tion, Steel­eye Span and the Al­bion Band. Dun­lop’s droll re­flec­tions on re­la­tion­ships and mod­ern life, and the agility of his acous­tic fin­ger­pick­ing and elec­tric gui­tar play­ing, are rem­i­nis­cent of Richard Thomp­son in a sharp com­men­tary on me­dia scare­mon­ger­ing, No Go Zones, and a sar­donic break-up song, She Won’t Cry For Me: “It’s the crack in your voice / as you try to as­cer­tain / which parts of you I could never en­ter­tain”. Dun­lop’s soul­ful singing is closer in style to Paul Brady, an­other great folk alum­nus — es­pe­cially in First World Prob­lem, a weighty num­ber that com­ments on the bland­ness of mod­ern pop in pass­ing: “There’s a song I heard on the ra­dio / and it sounds just like every song I know / but the words all fall on stony ground / without the roots to hold them down”. In Eter­nal Op­ti­mist, Dun­lop disses the nar­cis­sis­tic na­ture of some mo­bile users: “Every new tone / that il­lu­mi­nates your phone / all born in haste / feeds the im­age / on which im­por­tance is placed”. In a ro­man­tic solo acous­tic bal­lad, Let’s Dance to Pa­ganini, he waxes more po­et­i­cally: “Then I knew that it was fate / let the vi­o­lins arpeg­giate”.

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