For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Innes is a Scot in our midst whom I believe to be one of the foremost acoustic guitarists in Australia. He has been National Bluegrass Flatpicking Champion, but his lines contain nuances that reach beyond the confines of that genre. His skill as a mandolinist and slide Dobro player are also on ample display here.
Innes is keeping his own company these days. He plays every instrument on this CD, as well as investing considerable time and effort into building an electronic soundscape for most of the songs.
It’s an interesting and sometimes challenging experiment, and I feel that this is the first step in a journey that will reap rewards for the traveller who goes the distance. Words like fascinating, compelling and diverse spring to mind.
The tracks move from straight bluegrass with some sampled backing through moving and quite beautiful melodic and intimate songs to some electronica pieces that would not be out-of-place in a dance club. I’m not an expert on what is done in a studio with computers these days so I won’t attempt to explain what’s going on here, but the effect is at times mesmerizing.
The lyrics cover a wide range of topics and are not immediately accessible, but once digested they keep ticking over in your mind. When I woke up with the lyrics to Cruel Freak (a song about Julian Assange) in my head, I knew I was ready to write this review.
Cruel Freak is a well constructed song with, for me, controversial words juxtaposed against some unsettling electronic vocal effects and lush backing.
Oh Jimmy contains some fine playing in the bluegrass style, while the lyrics are again disquieting.
The doleful atmosphere of Two’s Company – “Two’s Company, so come on over the hill with me” – about two baby boomers fading into the sunset together – is eased by the intimacy and sentiment of Only This, perhaps the only song of a personal nature on the album, featuring a fine vocal arrangement.
Oh, and the short Lost and Found is a fine instrumental piece.
For those who know Innes as the bluegrass virtuoso that he is, be aware that while that’s found all over this album, Innes’s muse has led him into fresh and innovative directions.
I’m keen to hear the next instalment, but meanwhile I’m singing this in the shower.