Soaking Red

As 50 per cent of [a]Tendrils[/a], [B]Joel Silbersher[/B] bestows instant kudos upon [B]'Soaking Red'[/B]....

Soaking Red

8 / 10 As 50 per cent of [a]Tendrils[/a], Joel Silbersher bestows instant kudos upon 'Soaking Red'. Some ten years ago, with Melbourne's schoolyard punk prodigies God, Silbersher wrote 'My Pal', a pathos-sodden encapsulation of teenage despair ("You're my only friend/And you don't even like me"). Here, in collaboration with Beasts Of Bourbon guitarist Charlie Owen, we find Joel still full of woe but now compelled by the travails of adulthood to sing the songs of the eternally damned.







As you'd expect with protagonists declaring such estimable Oz-rock credentials, and the additional presence of Dirty Three drummer Jim White, [a]Tendrils[/a] believe nerves exist to be frayed. "Wake again to the pillow soaking red", avers Silbersher on an opening title track which asserts the album's primary characteristics: tales of lives gone violently awry, set to elusive, near-impressionistic folkadelic orchestration. Organs proffer a narcotic balm, while guitars are picked with pointed economy, like the jibes of an estranged friend.







The key to our empathy lies with Silbersher's voice, a hoarse upper-middle register croon. Imagine a rawer, more malevolent Elliott Smith - or alternatively, the Richard Thompson to Smith's Nick Drake. "Damn your life and dim your eyes", he spits on the stand-out 'Hands Are Tied', "and hope that one of us knows we're alive".







Humour is not exempted - there's a song called 'The Prune In Heat', while 'Raw Feeling' sounds unconscionably like Sting - but overall the tone is one of brooding, appalling beauty.







With 'Soaking Red', these outback bluesmen have concocted a formidable episode of Australian Gothic.

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