Friday, November 23, 2007

Patty Griffin + Karl Broadie = a perfect night

The Patty Griffin/Karl Broadie roadshow is drawing to a close, and the dynamic duo turned on a fantastic last Sydney gig at the Factory in Enmore. I'll say more about Karl separately, another day, but ooooooh Patty! I was lucky enough to see her at the Basement too, but the Factory gig was the one. More epiphanies than a revival meeting and more joy than a Christmas carol - and not just because she played some of my favourite songs ('Making Pies', 'Useless Desires', 'Truth No 2' as well as her version of Springsteen's 'Stolen Car'). Like Karl, Patty looks completely at home on stage and completely happy to be there - so, of course, we're happy to watch her. It's rare to see musicians look happy on stage, and I always wonder why - since they love music so much, why aren't they in bliss? I always thought Ani di Franco was the happiest, but again I say ooooooh Patty. I defy anyone to say that music isn't a spiritual practice after a night like that.

On a purely technical level: the timbre and her control of her voice is extraordinary. For someone who doesn't really look like she's getting deep into the lungs, she has a lot of power. No doubt she could just sing - without any guitar or accompaniment of any sort - and it would still be a transcendent experience for the witnesses.

Hallelujah and hail Patty Griffin.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Has Keith Urban jumped the shark?

I have only seen Keith Urban play live once – at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney about three years ago. I think. Well, before Nicole. It was sublime. By then I was already in love with Be Here as an album and Keith as a performer, but seeing him live just made it all the more exquisite. That man could work a stage like no one I had seen since Chris Cornell fronting Soundgarden (token rock ’n’ roll references are allowed) and everyone was in thrall to him. And what was not to love about Be Here? Killer singles – ‘She’s Gotta Be’ is one of the finest pop/country/rock songs of recent times – and a well-balanced collection of tunes. There was love, loss, addiction, joy and spirituality, and it was all so COOL.

Then he got married.

Then there was Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing. Now, he still has the melody-writing chops. But the lyrics leave me cold. Plus I think he wrote less on this album than he did on Be Here. He’s tame – or, at least, he seems tame. The spit and fire have gone out of him. In other words: he has jumped the shark. I still listen to this album, but not as much as I’m still listening to Be Here. I miss Cool Keith. I want Cool Keith back. The big question for those of us who thought that Be Here heralded a golden age of Keithness is: does Cool Keith still exist? Certainly, his guitar duel with John Butler at the 2007 ARIAs indicated that there might be something there, and that others are starting to see it. But just because John Butler thinks he’s cool now doesn’t mean he’s thinking that the right Keith is cool.

Only the next album could tell us how he was travelling. And, unsurprisingly, it's a greatest hits package. Sigh.

Cool Keith: come home.

(Opinions expressed above have NOTHING to do with the fact that I was planning to be Mrs Urban.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What's to come

As far as I can tell, there's no Australian country music blog. (Or if there is, please tell me! I want to read it.) I was itching to have a space where I could write about CDs, gigs, musicians and other country music folks; to share the great joy that's to be found in country music songs and the Australian country music scene. I'll occasionally write about people from overseas, but generally there will be a lot about Kasey Chambers, Karl Broadie, Beccy Cole, Troy Cassar-Daley, The McClymonts and Keith Urban - for starters. Hopefully it will all be interesting; sometimes it may not be to your taste - so tell me. Country music fans are passionate and dedicated, so I'm prepared to defend my positions against all comers :)