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Album Review: Angus Stone - Broken Brights

7 August 2012 | 11:07 am | Carley Hall

Broken Brights is not just Angus and Julia in solo form with mandolins, harmonicas, piano, dobro thrown in; there’s real sentiment and storytelling breaking through.

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Being one half of a successful brother and sister duo would inevitably cast a sort of weighty silhouette over the solo work of either; sometimes a kind of resultant expectation is realised, at other times dispelled. Australia's folk sibling darlings Angus and Julia Stone have both made the leap outside their cosy sphere recently, with Julia's debut solo effort offering us another facet earlier this year. Now Angus has quietly ushered in Broken Brights, an understated and blissful fusion of the tried and true and the new and refreshing. Much like the man himself, really.

Broken Brights takes its own line in its own time; it's the album equivalent of a wander round Angus' favourite haunts. Initial reserves about his often unvarying Paul Kelly-like delivery abound. Happily though, young Mr Stone and co. scratch a well-worn surface to reveal more musical depth than the sweet occasional humming and guitar strumming would lead one to believe. For instance, River Love and the title track place us in familiar territory, with the ebb and flow of plucked guitars, sparse but driving percussion and vocals almost spoken in a whisper. But there are great opposing senses of travelling and rejoicing, of space and isolation inherent with this combination of Angus' laid-back croon, echoing snares, and banjos and violins tracing lines through the more upbeat tunes like Monsters and Be What You Be; this juxtaposition is what makes the album viable.

Broken Brights is not just Angus and Julia in solo form with mandolins, harmonicas, piano, dobro thrown in; there's real sentiment and storytelling breaking through tracks like lead single Wooden Chair and the grim tone of It Was Blue.