If Rockhampton duo Busby Marou hadn’t already found a nice little groove over their first two records, then Postcards From The Shell House ensures they have now.
Think melodic, acoustic tunes with heartfelt lyrics delivered by the John Mayer-esque Tom Busby. From the opening cut, Best Part Of Me, none of the 11 tracks particularly break the mould, nor do they need to. Busby and his partner in crime, Jeremy Marou, are at their best when they’re throwing down three-minute guitar-pop tunes, and their growing legion of fans are sure to lap up this latest collection.
Shell House picks up where the island sway of Farewell Fitzroy (2013) closer “Waterlogged” left off. At once a homecoming (“Living in a Town”) and a departure from the country leanings of preceding offerings, it’s an album steeped in the gentle rhythms of the coast. Opener “Best Part of Me” champions Busby’s breezy croon and Marou’s earthy guitar, recalling Josh Pyke and laidback moments from Bernard Fanning. Reconciliation anthem “Paint This Land” bears the sonic stamp of producer-collaborator Jon Hume, while folk-rock anthem “Getaway Car” is piloted by the pair’s sparkling harmony.
Marcus Blacke new self-titled album, out now via Three Sirens Music Group, is a lot of things. The Australian’s latest 12 songs go from deep and emotional to dripping with socio-political subtext to something more traditionally categorized as Americana – but one thing it is not, is comfortable. Regardless of what Blacke is singing about in his unique vocal style – and, with equal weight, playing guitar (more on that later) – you are there to feel it. And believe me, you will.
People spend their life avoiding feelings. I’m not writing songs so people can dance. I want them to know it is okay to feel something. We’re built to be melancholy sometimes. – Marcus Blacke
The album may be far from “easy” listening, but it is well worth the emotional journey that Blacke takes you on. And speaking of that guitar work, and all the music really, it provides the perfect backdrop; bucking convention with twists and turns of its own – it is recorded as raw and searching as the lyrics themselves. The first contemporary connection my brain makes with Marcus Blacke is one of my earliest musical hand-holds, Elliott Smith. Smith’s music had such a profound effect on me during his life, more so in death as I was growing up and trying to be an adult. Something to go back to, something to fall back on when I needed it. I find Blacke’s songs here provide the same musical template for my required emotional attach/detachment. It’s no surprise, to me anyway, that I gravitate towards Blacke’s “Only Orchid” and “Holding Tokens”, while also having great regard for “Russian Orchard” and “Master of Eden”. Blacke is nothing if not honest and humble throughout not just these 4 songs, but for all of this album’s material – 12 expertly crafted lyrical and musical compositions that will stick with you long after it’s run-time is over.