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Album Review: Russell Morris - Red Dirt Red Heart

20 October 2015 | 11:25 am | Andrew McDonald

"The album is an engrossing listen for a blues fan"

Since 2012, guitarist and singer Russell Morris has been undertaking a music journey in the form of a blues and roots trilogy. Following Sharkmouth and Van Diemen's Land comes this closing chapter of Australiana blues-rock, sunburnt land cliches and all.

Despite the straightforward nature of some of the turns of phrase Morris spins on the record, the album is an engrossing listen for a blues fan. Active since the 1960s, Morris revels in the history-making guitar work he's known for here - groovy slide guitar and a country twang dance throughout the record around his 12-bar jamming. The band backing him here knows its place, leaving all flourishes and showmanship to Morris and his six strings.

The album's themes make for a worthy close to his trilogy, and deal with Australian history in a unique way, examining Indigenous culture in the face of perverse whiteness. Australiana is in full force on tunes like the harmonica-driven Bennelong, and the honestly danceable Lonesome Road. Morris knows his audience on this album, and plays to them without concern; this is not an experiment or a new side of him, and the album does feel overly long in its continued examination of Australiana, but for fans of the man, this will more than satisfy. Morris' position in Australian music history is already established, so it makes sense that in his later years he becomes a sort of musical historian.