Glenn Richards : Glimjack
It was only a matter of time before Glenn Richards released an album with his name inscribed on a record cover. As one of the country’s finest songwriters, it was both expected and greatly anticipated. With Augie March taking a well-earned break, it proved the opportune time – Richards’ debut solo album, Glimjack, is lyrically brilliant and musically diverse.
Written in the three months leading up to recording sessions at a Fairfield warehouse, Glimjack captures poignantly the instinctive rapport between Richards and his four-piece entourage – brother/guitarist Chris (Dust), guitarist/keyboardist Dan Luscombe (The Drones, The Blackeyed Susans), bassist Ben Bourke (Ned Collette & Wirewalker) and drummer Mike Noga (The Drones). Evidently, Richards has a great deal to say – and Glimjack proves a moving affirmation.
The stark subject matter underlying country-infused rocker Torpor And Spleen wouldn’t be so lucid amidst the rollicking playfulness if it weren’t for Richards’ brooding lament that “Violence is king and love is pauper / In the mix of spleen and moral torpor”. Long Pigs alludes to a dream that the singer-songwriter conceived of Gertrude Street in the ’50s, but its darkly hypnotising grooves drive the ragged rocker stridently. Even the tale of a city’s inexplicable occupation in Apply Of My Eye is beautifully evocative as Richards ties in romantic notions with a similarly enigmatic air.
In Unflappable Man’s exploration of grief and pain, ethereal vocal harmonies and rich vintage folk-rock cadences instil a soaring propensity to Richards’ poignant lamentation that “It isn’t all those promises you vow to keep then don’t / It isn’t that the world will end but the likelihood that it won’t... wake me up from remembering”. Atop the glistening piano melody adorning Turn On You, Richards sings about the practice of fermenting alcohol from the rotten flesh of a dead horse – a practice that became the ‘only joy’ for soldiers during the American civil war.
The affecting folk melancholia of South Of Heaven depicts Black Saturday with a dignified honesty, while Harsh Critic is an exploration of his “on and off stage hissy fits”. Harsh Critic is not only an album highlight – featuring Richards in a seductive baritone – but the singer-songwriter’s directness proves fiercely compelling, as he broods: “All the humming drones in the hive / All the tender messages that never arrive / And every temple that the hammer strove / The curling hand is not a disease / I need you out of my way, but I don’t have the strength to move you.”
While Glimjack does seem rather lengthy (15 songs in just under an hour), its songwriting poignancy is undeniable. Richards’ exceptional, evocative and insightful lyricism remains at the forefront of Australian rock. Glimjack is stylistically, emotionally and thematically intriguing, but more rewarding is how revelatory its finest moments are.
Glenn Richards new album Glimjack is out now through Sony Music.