Released: July 2018
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh
Phew, this week only took me about two songs to find something worth reviewing.
I like Country a lot. I done got me records from both of the George’s in my collection (Jones & Strait should you need to ask), along with Willie, Merle, Hank (Ole of course). So it has been a frustration that I haven’t gotten any Country worth covering on Unigon Plane before.
Tanya-Lee Davies is an Aussie Pop artist with clear leanings towards nostalgia in her previous works. I’ll be blunt and say I don’t love that work of hers.
This time Tanya-Lee has coupled(!) with 14 men to create a record of Duets, that as far as I can tell, are all old Country songs. This has elevated her singing quite some way.
You don’t really get pure Country or even Alt Country but a sort of glossed-Hipster version that works nicely if you have guests and want to impress them with your cosmopolitan tastes. Sadly “The Duetting Damsel” doesn’t ever reach the joyful heights & intimacy as if we had Emmylou Harris & Jimmy Dale Gilmore in the lounge with us.
Bit rough I know but that said there are some rather interesting & pleasing things about this release that I think give it value in a collection.
Number one, it is pleasant listening. You can work (or iron) to it without complaint. Which puts it way ahead of most “modern” releases.
Number two is that it brings a collection of Country songs, some standards, some all but forgotten, into one place. That is always a thing of value especially if it manages to bring those songs to a new audience which this record definitely should.
Number three is the collection of partners here as they run an unexpected gamut of Australian performers in a situation you would not expect if you only know them from their shining moment. That alone is to Tanya-Lee’s credit.
The album embed is set to start playing at “My Sweet Love Ain’t Around” with Andy Baylor. Clearly, the best choice of a single as it has a pretty good punch that might get it played on a Country station. It is a bit more Bluegrass though so if not used to the “whine” of that form then shuttle back up to track one – where I think an album should play from anyway.
If you haven’t already then please make sure you take a listen or two to the record and can find a place for it in your heart.
In song order, listing their most well known Band & Song/s
Steve Lucas – X (Aussie Punk band) X were one of the first Aussie Punk bands on record and it is still a corker of an album today, complete with old Rocker Lobby Loyde Producing. They don’t record em like this anymore.
Peter Busher – of Peter Busher & The Longe Rangers band. Peter doesn’t seem to have any history shown but he is the real deal an I’d a bin up dancin’ 4-Step or Rockabilly if I were there.
Dom Mariani – The Stems “At First Sight” was a staple on 4ZZZ (college radio). Sadly they never cracked the crossover to Top 40.
Andy Baylor – The Dancehall Racketeers never made it past the odd appearance on TV but they were always there in the Rockabilly scene. Andy has also been a sideman for American touring acts.
Benny Peters – I can’t get any background on Benny but boy does he look like an Aussie but play like a Lousiana demon.
Peter Baylor – yup, brother of Andy and played in The Dancehall Racketeers. I am pretty sure I have actually danced to him in the Flatfoot Shakers one Wintersun (small world). He did release a record of his own and this was one of the songs.
Justin Davies – I find nothing on unless he is the AFL player (happy to be updated)
Rusty Berther – appears to have been half of the comedy duo Scared Weird Little Guys (unofficial video). “Christmas Day” is killer and is actually a form used in old Country joke songs so it all comes full circle.
Alex Buxton – I am also stumped on (update welcome)
Jon von Goes – is a radio presenter on Triple R. He’s a marriage celebrant as well as doing TV shows like RocKwiz. He also has a musical venture called JVG Guitar Method (he’s the guy with the natty red ax).
Matt Walker – seems to be what used to be called a “rounder”. In Aussie, we’d probably just say, “he’s been around” in the sense that the’s been hanging around near us but never notable. Listening to his band Lost Ragas does make me wonder why.
Rob Snarski – The Blackeyed Susans “Smokin’ Johnny Cash“. They were never a name on my list but they were there. Perhaps the similarity to Nick Cave & The Triffids didn’t help me. Also, musically I was looking in the other direction at this time. Reading the band history makes it seem I should pay more attention. Rob is a lovely singer.
Normally I show you some records from my collection that match. This time I think it isn’t really fair. I already mentioned names like Emmylou & Jimmy Dale but they are in a different place from this record. Take “The Duetting Damsel” on its own terms is my advice.