Real good timin'

I listened to this album a couple of times through, nodding my head along. I kept thinking to myself, "I just need one more thing to really get me excited." I said that over and over, until I realized I was about to listen to the album again--and that made me happy.

Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes
Black Coffee

Bryan is Australian, but he sings like an American. That is, with an American accent. The music, too, sounds very much like americana that trends toward new traditionalist country (with side trips into Motown, bluegrass and other "conventional" americana affects). The arrangements and lyrics are constructed very nicely, and the performances are spot on. In fact, there's very little tension in the technical aspects of the music.

The lyrics do show a fine feel for expressing interesting ideas within established convention. There's nothing shocking here, but Bryan is able to use ordinary words to express rather more intriguing ideas. Yes, the songs go exactly where they seem to be headed, but there's often an undertow.

That's why I kept hoping to hear something. Once I realized what I was missing, however, I just went with the flow. Despite a number of reviews I've read, Bryan is the anti-Nick Cave. He traffics in the same music and lyrical ideas, but he disguises his intentions. Cave's mental torment is apparent from the striking of the first chord. Bryan is much more subtle, though that probably makes him even more subversive.

On the surface, this is a massively enjoyable album. The rumblings beneath raise the bar much higher. Your ears are playing a trick on you: There's a whole lot more going on here. Just keep digging.

Jon Worley

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