Ned Collette & Wirewalker : 2
It has been more than two years since Melbourne based Ned Collette relocated to Berlin and the songs from his new album 2 are the fruits of his journey. Displacement is a running theme throughout but more so the twin sides of isolation; the loneliness of the road and elation of solitude.
The core of the album was recorded with Joe Talia (Wire Walker bassist/synth player Ben Bourke took time off to be with his young family) making for a tighter and clearer aesthetic. The common thread is the sound of Collette’s Spanish guitar, conjuring minor key landscapes, and textural explorations (For Roberto) that gesture towards Berlin as the mythical musical city in David Bowie’s Heroes and Low.
Musically and lyrically it shares similarities with the work of Leonard Cohen. The Hedonist bringing to mind Cohen’s at his most desperate in Songs of Love and Hate while the synths of 2 make it seem like the strange cousin of I’m your Man however with a more organic band sound.
Collette’s voice has always reminded me of Paul Kelly’s. It is not as laconic or personable, at times it is even icy, but it still has the same brittleness that cuts through. He uses this to great effect in Il Futuro Fantastico where, over a tribal drum beat, he reels off scenes of suburban paranoia and some deft electric guitar bursts.
2 is not all minor mood; there is a sense of hope even pride in some of the songs. The first single Long You Lie sashays to a great four-on-the-floor rhythm and delivers, unexpectedly, a rousing chorus. The guests on the album add some colour and depth; Laura Jean and Biddy Connor counterpoint the starkness of How to Change a City with some disco style harmonies while Sascha Gersak's vocal on Long You Lie has Germanic seriousness.
At times the density of lyrics can have a claustrophobic effect and some of the best moments are when the lyrics are simple and repetitive. Happy Heart's charming blues guitar figure and easy gospel backbeat make the lyric “I’m running faster on my own, I want my happy heart alone” a sweet mantra.
Though he’s always been a good songwriter, 2 is a maturation in sound for Ned Collette & Wirewalker. Though some of the music and lyrics will seem obtuse, these refined and carefully arranged songs will reward listeners with repeated listens.
BY BOJAN STOJANOV
Best Track: Long May You Lie
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