Rock

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

HWY Dave Wright and the Mid­night Elec­tric In­de­pen­dent Mel­bourne out­fit Dave Wright and the Mid­night Elec­tric’s se­cond al­bum, fol­low­ing on from their 2014 de­but The Lucky Coun­try, is a quixotic mix of pub rock and 1960s-style brass that leaves the best un­til last.

The al­bum has a big cast, adding to the usual in­stru­men­tal sus­pects of trum­pet, trom­bone, pedal steel gui­tar, man­dolin, bouzouki and ac­cor­dion.

The re­sult is a mix of gen­res that clicks off in rock over­drive, to the roar of a start­ing en­gine on Com­ing Home, be­fore veer­ing to­wards coun­try and tak­ing a de­tour to some at­mo­spheric folk-rock. There’s even an un­abashed nod to Bruce Spring­steen.

The eight songs were writ­ten across an ex­tended pe­riod and are loosely linked by an over­ar­ch­ing road theme.

Wright is a strong lyri­cist and the pic­ture he paints of dy­ing love on Where Nee­dle Hits the Red (“If I let my­self look back / I see now my weak­ness made you strong / You came on like a heart at­tack / Now look at the dam­age that you’ve done”) fits in well with the song’s maudlin steel gui­tar and stylish piano.

The horns are a distinc­tive touch and while it some­times may sound as if the Ti­juana Brass has in­vaded an Aussie pub, they add clout to the al­bum.

Av­enues of Hon­our, for ex­am­ple, is an an­ti­war song with a haunt­ing folk re­frain on ac­cor­dion that uses the brass to ef­fec­tively punch through to a rock fin­ish. The horns also well and truly set the stage for the up-tempo Rain.

But it is on the ti­tle track, left un­til last, where ev­ery­thing re­ally gels.

HWY is an eight-minute opus that builds to an en­er­getic cli­max fea­tur­ing some sear­ing gui­tar and great back­ing vo­cals. It’s a sit-up-and-takeno­tice fin­ish.

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