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

Bru­tal Dawn Bernard Fan­ning Dew Process/UMA Bru­tal Dawn is the com­pan­ion al­bum to last year’s Civil Dusk and sees Bernard Fan­ning on a sim­i­lar slant, mix­ing the fa­mil­iar rootsy el­e­ments of his de­but solo al­bum, Tea & Sym­pa­thy, with oc­ca­sional di­ver­sions into slightly psychedelic ter­rain. Recorded, like its pre­de­ces­sor, at LaCueva, the By­ron Bay stu­dio owned by the singer and pro­ducer Nick DiDia, Bru­tal Dawn sees Fannng re­flect­ing on his place in the world. Amer­ica (Glam­our and Pres­tige) is a none-toocom­pli­men­tary glance at time spent in the US, coloured by a Ge­orge Har­ri­son-es­que gui­tar mo­tif and nifty drums from guest Rob Hirst. His core band the Dark Fins, fea­tur­ing drum­mer De­clan Kelly, bas­sist Matt En­gel­brecht, gui­tarist An­drew Mor­ris and fid­dler Sal­liana Camp­bell, de­liv­ers del­i­cate tex­tures that in DiDia’s hands leave plenty of room for Fan­ning’s emo­tive vo­cals to soar. He’s par­tic­u­larly emo­tional on the open­ing Shed My Skin, pon­der­ing a pris­oner’s un­ease at the prospect of free­dom, ably sup­ported by vo­cals from Clare Bowditch. There’s angst also on the clos­ing bal­lad, Let­ters from a Dis­tant Shore, a soldier’s lament on the hor­rors of war. There’s no overtly po­lit­i­cal rant in the man­ner of Civil Dusk’s Belly of the Beast on Bru­tal Dawn; in­deed there’s more am­bi­gu­ity in some lyrics, such as the mid-paced How Many Times? and the CSNY-sound­ing Fight­ing for Air, but Fan­ning sells them well vo­cally. Civil Dusk’s rock wig-out Change of Pace was in­deed that and a cou­ple of tunes here burst with en­ergy and joie de vivre, namely the coun­try shuf­fle Some­where Along the Way and the bluesy acous­tic stroll No Name Lane, on which Fan­ning is in a peace­ful frame of mind: “show my en­e­mies a warm em­brace / crush them with kind­ness and grace”. Bru­tal Dawn is not quite as con­sis­tent as its pre­de­ces­sor, but a wor­thy com­pan­ion none­the­less.

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