Sympathetic Stupid

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Darling Downs: How Can I Forget This Heart Of Mine

This is truly country music.

Most of this album feels like it could have been recorded under the stars, in front of the campfire, just two boys missing lost or absent loves. Whether it soothes or aggravates what ails ya, this album is great. And yet it's probably best genre-ised as alt-country.

It's sparse and lonely music. The Darling Downs are a pedigree two-piece; Ron Peno from Died Pretty and Kim Salmon from, well, everything. These boys know how to make music, leaving space between the notes, leaving most of the production behind in the studio. The tunes are the thing.

Peno sings, his high, flawed voice giving a sound to loss. Salmon accompanies on guitar, playing no more than is necessary to keep the song moving, occasionally stepping to the mike to highlight the vocal. Minor percussion is unobtrusive at the back in some tracks, but that's it.

And it works. My highlight is Waste My Time, where they almost reach the bluesy territory covered by Tex Perkins with the Dark Horses.

But I've got to stop buying albums just after a gig which I've missed. It's very disappointing. Though to highlight how good Melbourne is, they both live here now, Peno from Sydney, Salmon from Perth. So more on the way, hopefully.