Past, present and fu­ture

Old rock­ers, coun­try stars and new kids on the block

Owner Driver - - Road Sounds - Greg Bush

GRAF­FITI U Keith Ur­ban Capi­tol/Univer­sal www.get­mu­sic.com.au

Keith Ur­ban’s new re­lease Graf­fiti U has the Aus­tralian­bred artist again stretch­ing the bound­aries, more than any other cur­rent artist la­belled as coun­try. Ur­ban re­port­edly came up with the Graf­fiti U ti­tle due to the 15 new tracks’ vary­ing mu­si­cal styles. Up-tempo opener ‘Com­ing Home’ fea­tures guest vo­cals from pop artist Ju­lia Michaels, with Ur­ban on any­thing with six strings and Cana­dian pro­ducer J. R. Rotem han­dling ev­ery­thing else. There’s a reg­gae flavour to ‘My Wave’, with song­writer and singer Shy Carter adding a rap mid­stream. Up-and-com­ing coun­try pop artist Kassi Ash­ton brings her vo­cals to mo­tor­ing track ‘Drop Top’, there’s a trade­mark Ur­ban gui­tar solo on ‘Steal My Thun­der’, and he recog­nises the women in his life on ‘Fe­male’, writ­ten af­ter the Har­vey We­in­stein abuse al­le­ga­tions. Bril­liant.

FOREIGNER WITH THE 21ST CEN­TURY OR­CHES­TRA AND CHOIR Foreigner Ear­mu­sic/Sony Mu­sic

www.ear-mu­sic.net

Rock band Foreigner, which started out in 1976, recorded this live al­bum with the 21st Cen­tury Or­ches­tra and Choir in May last year. The al­bum (it’s also avail­able as a DVD) opens with an or­ches­tral over­ture be­fore Foreigner launches into classic hits such as ‘Cold As Ice’, ‘Dou­ble Vi­sion’, ‘Juke Box Hero’ and ‘Feels Like The First Time’. The or­ches­tra per­forms an ex­tended in­tro to the hardrock­ing an­them ‘Ur­gent’, and the string sec­tion and choir are well suited to the power bal­lads ‘Wait­ing For A Girl Like You’ and ‘I Want To Know What Love

Is’. Foreigner devo­tees may be put off by the fact that gui­tarist Mick Jones is the only orig­i­nal mem­ber of the band re­main­ing, al­though cur­rent front­man Kelly Hansen’s vo­cals are not un­like those of orig­i­nal singer Lou Gramm. Foreigner and the 18-piece 21st Cen­tury Sym­phony Or­ches­tra and Choir will tour Aus­tralia this Oc­to­ber.

EM­PIRE Wil­liam Crighton ABC/Univer­sal www.abc­mu­sic.com.au

Em­pire is the sec­ond al­bum for Aussie singer­song­writer Wil­liam Crighton. His self-ti­tled de­but in 2016 at­tracted at­ten­tion, pro­vid­ing the launch­ing pad for a Cana­dian tour and two ap­pear­ances at this year’s By­ron Bay BluesFest. Crighton mixes it up on Em­pire, al­though ‘Hap­pi­ness’ is a great ex­am­ple of his earthy vo­cals and blues­rock sound. ‘Re­joice’ is a throw­back to the sound of ’80s punk; the bass line on ‘Devils Tongue’ wouldn’t be out of place on a B-52s’ al­bum; while Crighton de­liv­ers a de­spair­ing vo­cal on the grungy ‘Let Love Come First’. He low­ers the mood and the tempo on ‘Mr Brown’, a track that has drawn sim­i­lar­i­ties to The Bea­tles at their most ab­stract. He brings out the ukulele on the qui­eter ‘Sad­ness’, and the al­bum closes with a fiery take of Eric Bogle’s ‘And The Band Played Waltz­ing Matilda’.

CAN’T WAKE UP Shakey Graves Dual­tone/Cook­ing Vinyl www.cook­ingviny­laus­tralia.com

Pre­vi­ously cat­e­gorised as an “Amer­i­cana” artist, Texas singer­song­writer Shakey Graves (real name Ale­jan­dro Rose-Gar­cia) has stepped well out­side that genre with Can’t Wake Up. These 13 new tracks high­light RoseGar­cia’s quirky traits, pre­sented in a poprock style. ‘Kids These Days’ is a wordy take on boy­hood frus­tra­tions, ‘Cops and Rob­bers’ fol­lows the theme of “crime … it’s a young man’s game”, while hon­orary band mem­ber Ray­land Baxter guests on the Bea­tle-ish ‘Man­sion Door’. Rose-Gar­cia gets whim­si­cal on the palin­drome-named ‘Ai­boh­pho­bia’, a term ap­par­ently in­vented for those afraid of palin­dromes! One of the al­bum’s best is ‘Climb On The Cross’, an un­der­stated song about de­fi­ance, while the airy ‘Back­seat Driver’ is like Beck meets the Bea­tles. With tight har­monies through­out, Can’t Wake Up is in­ven­tive, but its dreamy sound may be too light for some.

FREE YOUR­SELF UP Lake Street Dive None­such/Warner www.none­such.com

Four-piece band Lake Street Dive, from Mas­sachusetts, are known for travers­ing the gen­res of rock, blues and soul, as with this sec­ond al­bum Free Your­self Up. The band it­self is a 50-50 male-fe­male split – vo­cal­ist Rachael Price, bassist Brid­get Kear­ney, gui­tarist-trum­peter Michael “McDuck” Ol­son and drum­mer Michael Cal­abrese. The first sin­gle, ‘Good Kisser’ is a “woman-scorned” post­breakup rock song, al­though there’s a feistier at­ti­tude on ‘Dude’, where Price rocks it up as she ob­jects to be­ing left at home while her part­ner is out on the town. There’s a blues sound to ‘Red Light Kisses’ and soul on the big band-styled ‘Baby Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts’. The band throws in a cou­ple of emo­tive bal­lads – ‘I Can Change’ and ‘Musta Been Some­thing’ – and suit­ably winds up with the up­lift­ing ‘Hang On’.

GEN­ERAL BITTERNESS AND IN­NER-CITY MOONSHINE

Dirty Hearts

Near Enough Records – www.neare­noughrecords.com

Fol­low­ing the re­lease of a self-ti­tled EP in 2015, Bris­bane rock trio Dirty Hearts has come out fir­ing with de­but al­bum Gen­eral Bitterness and In­ner-City Moonshine. The band (singer-gui­tarist Matt Doe, bass player T-Man and drum­mer Groovey Avalon) of­fered a teaser with the pub-rock track ‘Sand-Lea’ in March this year, but it’s ‘Dead Eyed Girls’ that shows off the band’s tal­ents, with Doe’s force­ful vo­cals and gui­tar riffs re­call­ing the sound of ’70s rock out­fits UFO and Blue Oys­ter Cult. Dirty Hearts main­tains the mo­men­tum with sec­ond sin­gle ‘New Way Of Walk­ing’. While those two tracks are the al­bum’s stand­outs, there are more gems to be dis­cov­ered, in­clud­ing the mid-placed grind­ing rock track ‘Be Right There’ and the riff-heavy ‘All About Us’. Dirty Hearts throws in a sur­prise with the de­spair­ing waltz-timed bal­lad ‘Mary’, again show­cas­ing Doe’s fret­board ex­per­tise.

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