An utterly beguiling piece of work in both scope and execution.
Brisbane outfit Halfway's fourth album Any Old Love is a fascinating beast, a complete artefact – especially on vinyl – on which the lyrics, music, artwork and even liner notes by author Ross Gibson coalesce into one absorbing narrative about a man desperate to hold on to his rapidly-receding dreams; a universal theme if ever there was one.
The main protagonist is a jockey whose career at city tracks has prematurely hit the skids, and who finds himself holding court at a Central Queensland pub – making the beautiful Shakespeare Hotel not just the album's midpoint but also its emotional centerpiece. Tracks like Honey I Like You and Hard Life Loving You set the scene perfectly, while the gorgeous Sunlight On The Sills brings it all home and closer Waking Hours brings a hint of optimism to the occasionally melancholy proceedings. It's one of John Busby's best batches of lyrics, complemented by Chris Dale whose songwriting contributions are as requisitely strong as ever.
Naturally it wouldn't all work without strong musical accompaniment, and the eight-piece are in typically strong fettle; ex-Go-Between John Wilsteed's recent addition on guitar brings polish and dexterity (his former band-mate Robert Forster once more taking the production reins, abetted in parts by Minneapolis music maverick and former Replacements mentor Peter Jesperson, who scores a co-production credit), while the remaining band members fill their respective roles with aplomb. An utterly beguiling piece of work in both scope and execution.