Spooky Land : Killin' One Bird With Two Stones
Intense, tortured and affecting, Spooky Land is the nom de plume of emerging Sydney singer-songwriter, Marcus Gordon. What renders Spooky Land’s debut EP, Killin’ One Bird With Two Stones, particularly striking is the manner in which it diverts from ragged country-infused rock to astoundingly intimate, and occasionally morose, folk ballads. The musically-restrained but wordy opening track An Eroding Song, complimented by slide guitar and harmonica, is followed by the rollicking swagger of Eight Split Knuckles – its rustic twang accentuating Gordon’s American-accented vocals. From then on in, Gordon invites the listener into his plaintive and evocative neo-folk balladry. The emotive singer-songwriter may have Bob Dylan and Daniel Johnston embedded into his deepened consciousness, but Gordon possesses a uniquely expressive potency.
Dizzy Blues’ urgent acoustic strains are accompanied by the warm organ playing of Dead Letter Chorus’ Cameron Potts who – as producer of Gordon’s EP – has captured the singer-songwriter’s raw intensity superbly. Opening with a harmonica solo, it’s the epic and moving Ballad Of The Dead Doctor that proves most arresting. Simultaneously heart-breaking and beautifully articulated, Gordon details a tragic love story with sensitivity and poise. From the portrayal of his lover’s oppressive abode (“Her bedroom window overlooks the backyard / Built from fake glass and shielded with black steel bars) and the romantic gestures (“I picked pebbles from her garden and hurled them at her window / It was the extra force on my fifth throw that forced her from her pillow”) to the heartache of discovering her father’s cruel discipline (“She had two black swollen eyes and her arms had gone all purple / With hesitation she began quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald”), Ballad Of The Dead Doctor is an inspired narrative-rich ballad.
As if its chilling predecessor wasn’t heart-rending enough, Gordon ensures that his closing statement, Failures, is remarkably unsettling. It’s evident that Gordon sings with a heavy head and loaded heart when he wails “Wasn’t sure if I should pick up my guitar / How could it possibly sound even half as sad as I feel,” before his final disconcerting cry of “try so hard all goddamn day” pierces the suffocatingly stark silence. As demonstrated by Gordon’s debut EP, Spooky Land as an entity are the work of an intriguing, persuasive songwriter and deserving of qualitative attention.