Folk/pop

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

In the Ser­vice of Spring Dusken Lights Independent Paul O. Watling, the voice and pen be­hind this col­lec­tion of beau­ti­fully un­der­stated pop songs, was at the helm of 1980s Perth out­fit Rab­bit’s Wed­ding, while oth­ers in this rel­a­tively new ensem­ble hail from an­other band of the pe­riod, the Can­nanes. This de­but al­bum, sev­eral years in the mak­ing, is in the ser­vice of in­ter­twin­ing melodies, gen­tly rum­bling per­cus­sion and Watling’s po­etic and at times Dy­lanesque am­bigu­ous lyrics. On Mother Na­ture Wants Him Dead, for in­stance, an am­bling acous­tic shuf­fle un­der­pinned by a spaghetti west­ern whis­tle, there’s this view of an un­named ter­ror: “He had an un­known griev­ance and a cer­tain cir­cum­stance / he made a crude ex­plo­sive and it went off just by chance.” That’s as heavy as it gets on what is largely an up­lift­ing set of tunes. Watling’s voice shares a tone with the wideeyed ro­man­ti­cism of Belle and Se­bas­tian’s Stu­art Mur­doch and Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pec­knold, par­tic­u­larly the lat­ter on songs such as the breezy Ar­rows of Joy and the more in­tro­spec­tive and mildly psy­che­delic Sparks on the Wire. He sounds a bit wan in places, but bassist Francesca C. Bussey’s har­monies add body to the open­ing Su­per­man, Won­der­girl, The Frangi­pani are Open and the stark closer Moon­flower. Set in the mid­dle, Lodestar ups the pace and the vol­ume with a rum­ble of toms, shim­mer­ing elec­tric gui­tar and again the two vo­cals com­ple­ment­ing each other. Mul­ti­in­stru­men­tal­ist Alex Salter pro­duced the al­bum, giv­ing it a warm glow and al­low­ing the el­e­ments to breathe, in­clud­ing drum­mer Philip Rawl­in­son’s sub­tle touches and, most of all, Watling’s frag­ile voice.

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