Listening Post: McLaney & Malik/Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm/Evan Dando/Bryce Wastney

Our weekly wrap of new music.

Raashi Malik and Paul McLaney have collaborated on The Old Traditions
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Raashi Malik and Paul McLaney have collaborated on The Old Traditions

McLaney & Malik

The Old Traditions

(Self-released)

★★★★

Given his passion for Shakespeare and the beautiful rendering of the bard's soliloquies​ for the Pop Up Globe's Play On last year, it wouldn't be a surprise if Paul McLaney has past life links with the great wordsmith. From his beginnings with Gramsci, through his various electronic projects such as The Impending Adorations to his latest album, The Old Traditions, a minimalist collaboration with Raashi Malik (check out her work with Rhombus and her self-titled debut  EP), McLaney has been a rare shining light who can compose music that offers a perspective beyond the mundane. With The Old Traditions  "the lyric is king", where ordinary emotions become profound when observed from a wiser perspective.  On Victory, a gorgeous song full of self-doubt, he reflects on what he feels he may or may not have achieved with the lyric "now I believe in karma as a force that strikes a balance in one's soul, darling, and it seems that karma has chosen that I could use some balance of my own".  That's profound. Likewise  on Promises Of Eden, the lyric –  "I fell in love of that aspect of you that should be more present in myself, as we all do" – is an observation only a wise old soul can offer.   Throughout, Malik shows an intuitive empathy with the emotional core of the song, playing freely, delicately and poignantly as if this were a meeting of  like-minded souls.

Mike Alexander

Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm

Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm

(Southbound)

★★★1/2

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On the inside cover of Robert Cray's latest album are the words and symbol "I love soul".  They are quite telling given the subtle shift from his more Delta bluesy roots to gospel-tinged Memphis soul.  At the heart of many of those great recordings, especially by Al Green, were producer Willie Mitchell and his studio band Hi Rhythm.   And while Cray has turned to Grammy Award winning producer Steve Jordan, the Hi Rhythms minus guitarist Teenie Hodges(who has since passed), are a perfect fit for Cray, whose interpretations of Bill Withers' The Same Love That Made Me Love and Tony Joe White's Aspen, Colorado bring classic back to life.  After so many years in the industry, Cray is back on a Hi.

Mike Alexander

Evan Dando

Baby I'm Bored

(Southbound)

★★★

Originally released in 2003, former Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando's debut solo album crafts an alt-country rock sound that evokes the kind of emotions you're not sure if you should be holding on to or not. With the usual reflections on love and life, Baby I'm Bored is what you might expect to hear during the breakup segment of a rom-com. A strong Americana feel permeates as you feel you could be driving through rural New England. Dando wasn't breaking new ground with this record but his songwriting is certainly an evocative blend of sweet nostalgia and heartache. 

Hugh Collins

Bryce Wastney

True North

Self released

★★★★

Listening to Bryce Wastney's third studio album True North is like catching up with a dear old friend.  It's warm, intimate, honest and a lovely reminder of the shared bond you have.  He's a master craftsman — perhaps something he perfected as a boatbuilder — when it comes to writing articulate and poignant songs such as World Gone Mad and Too Late, both of which are reflectively wistful and rich in imaginary.  Other highlights include Hearts On Fire and The Hurricane but this is an album that you need to listen to throughout with your favourite tipple and simply enjoy.

Mike Alexander

 - Sunday Star Times

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