As part of last month’s Dark Mofo festival in Tasmania, legendary songwriter Mick Thomas assembled a cast of great Aussie talent to perform a series of songs – predominantly penned by Thomas – about that southern state’s fascinating convict heritage. This two-disc soundtrack documents the 19 songs that ensued from the project; some are (as you’d expect) dark, some are inherently humorous, but they’re all distinctly Australian and never less than fascinating.
The first disc opens with Glenn Richards offering the poignant The Vandemonian Lag, setting the tone for proceedings, before Dobe Newton (backed by Thomas’ much-missed Weddings Parties Anything) throws in The Pongo and The Spazzys lift things up a notch with the rocking Sex Hospital. Darren Hanlon and Shelley Short offer the beautiful The Wildest Dreams Of Samuel, before British folkie Rory McLeod (again with WPA) serves the jaunty A Long Long Way, and the Weds themselves throw in their first new song in years, the typically strong Two Grandfathers.
Disc two opens with The Aerial Maps’ Adam Gibson giving his typically expressive spoken-word vibe to Can You See Across The Sea, Van Walker proffers the stark, piano-driven Anne Meyers, and Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers gives the strong The Godforsaken Voyage. Brisbane’s Ben Salter makes the moving For The Life Of Him – one of Thomas’ best songs in years – his own, as does Tim Rogers with the ominous Ikey Mo, before Thomas returns the favour by recording a great rendition of Salter’s It’s Dogherty.
It’s a stylistically diverse collection courtesy of some of Australia’s finest performers, tied together by the twin threads of strong songwriting and our fascinating colonial heritage. Excellent.
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