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Single Gun

20 June 2012 | 11:50 am | Michael Smith

Lachlan Bryan discusses his recent work with some true "unsung heroes".

Originally making a name for himself fronting Melbourne-based alt.country band The Wildes, singer/songwriter Lachlan Bryan finally released his debut solo album, Shadow Of A Gun, in February this year. He pre-empted it with a debut single, Fly By Night, back in October last year, which he toured with The Wildes. Then he went to the States.

“I was there in November last year,” he explains, “just for a couple of weeks and, you know, loved it. I just got to see a whole lot of great music in a really short period of time and got very inspired to go back, probably as much a punter as a musician, and I'll be going back there at the end of August actually. I'll be there longer this time, doing some touring over there as opposed to just showcasing. Obviously I get so much inspiration from over there, it's good to get over there and see the people that just do it every day.”

As well as squeezing in a couple of those aforementioned showcases – at Nashville clubs The Bluebird, The Basement and The Rutledge – Bryan also managed to do a bit of co-writing with some locals.

“[It's] something that really interests me,” he admits. “It's hard because I rarely love commercial country songwriting. However, now and again there's a great song, and I sort of get the feeling that these guys in Nashville, they work away, nine-to-five, sometimes for their whole lives, for the sake of maybe one or two or three really great songs along the way, and there's something really nice about that. And I do feel that certainly most of the guys I met and wrote with are kind of pursuing that still and I found that kind of inspiring to be around.”

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Among the guys Bryan wrote with were the typically more-blues and-gospel songwriter Jerry Shelly and Byron Hill, who had a song covered by the late Ray Charles.

“I guess a few of the guys I wrote with are kind of unsung heroes – they've made careers out of songwriting but they're not necessarily household names, and again, there's something really nice about that. I like the work aspect of being a songwriter. There's a real industrious artistic side underneath, which I really like.”

Of course, Bryan had already cut Shadow Of The Gun before he took off for Nashville. It's a collection of songs not exactly a million miles from those he'd recorded with The Wildes but weren't, he felt, necessarily right for the band.

“I would use those musicians [The Wildes] again, as long as the songs I was trying to do were right for that band. I think that probably a thing I've learned through the process is to let the song or the group of songs dictate how you approach them. I was definitely lucky that [producer] Rod [McCormack] was kind of willing to be a guiding hand rather than a dictating hand in that process.

“I didn't know Rod very well before we started working together. We only met in January last year and I'd heard his name but I didn't really take a lot of notice of who was producing in mainstream Australian country music. He did a record with Paul Kelly [Foggy Highway] and plays with Paul regularly and had a band of his own called The Wheel back in the early '90s, very much in the alt.country area, and that's the side of Rod I got to know first. The first thing we talked about were the songwriters we both liked – Townes Van Zandt, Darrell Scott, John Prine.”