Monday, September 30, 2013

Album review: The Hypnotiser by Cash Savage and The Last Drinks

If Australia had a Wild West, this album from Cash Savage and The Last Drinks would certainly qualify as its soundtrack. The Hypnotiser is the dark heart, the broken soul, the cry in the night and the stumbling down the road of Australian country blues. Australia is an untamed land in so many ways - there is the desert and the coastline that no one person can ever hope to know in their entirety; there are the droughts and flooding rains. Australia is wild and its people have their wildness, even if we tend to coagulate on the coast and conduct ourselves in a generally orderly manner. But that wildness is part of our story, stretching back tens of thousands of years. It is the role of art and artists - not government or educational institutions - to explore it, and that is exactly what Cash Savage and The Last Drinks do on The Hypnotiser.

The rumbling, thrumming bass, often ethereal, wailing guitars and primal drum beats form the perfect accompaniment to Savage's voice, which is in itself hypnotic. Savage is a circus ringmaster and Janis Joplin; she is a preacher and a pugilist. She is the voice of temptation and also of redemption. The closest reference point I can think of in the canon of this country's music is Hat Fitz and Cara's Wiley Ways.

Some of the songs on this album sound shambolic, but on closer inspection this seems to be an effect calculated to convey the ruin or chaos (or both) of the song's narrator. For there is nothing messy about the way these songs grab hold of the listener and shake you until you are paying very close attention. As Savage commands in the title track, 'I am the water's edge/Come swimmin' with me, baby/I am the gospel choir/sing it with me, baby'. It is hard to resist this invocation whether you're listening for the first time or the twentieth.

The Hypnotiser by Cash Savage and The Last Drinks is out now.

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