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Paul Kelly – The A To Z Recordings (Compilation Review)

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Paul Kelly – The A To Z Recordings (Compilation Review)

While I’ve often considered Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits – Songs From The South, Vols. 1 & 2 to be amongst the finest compilation for any music lover’s collection, could the epic 105 song, 6-hour, A To Z Recordings eclipse it? 

Yes, I believe so. Of course, I’m a fan of the man who is rightfully regarded by many as one of Australia’s greatest singer-songwriters The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock And Pop.

I guess the real question we must ask ourselves, dear reader, is if there is such a thing as too much Paul Kelly? 

No, I don’t believe so!

Often when we think of albums, even compilations and live performances, incredible care has been taken when selecting tracks and their placement in order to make a coherent piece of audible art. However, Kelly has thrown the playbook out the window and between 2004 and 2010 was performing a four-part live performance, over four nights, that lined up much of his back catalog in alphabetical order. The concept is basic, yet extraordinary. Now, I know you may be wondering about the flow, given the songs are from different eras of Kelly’s celebrated career, but you need not be concerned for the flow of music is so compelling that you won’t want to stop listening until you reach the final song. Even then, I find myself playing the compilation again. It is astonishingly good.

The live performances, even though they were recorded in various locations, over several years, are perfectly matched sonically and are mixed and mastered beautifully. Kelly is incredible in the studio, but you really feel as though you’re experiencing the performance live on these recordings and thankfully the audience interaction has been kept to a minimum, thereby enhancing Kelly’s performance. 

My only criticism is the cover art. Seriously, I couldn’t think of a worse cover for such an incredible compilation and artist. Actually, no, I can, but that is hardly the point as it fails to convey the musicality of this master musician, unlike Post, Wanted Man, or Greatest Hits – Songs From The South, Vols. 1 & 2 does.

Adelaide is a great song and even though this collection is presented in alphabetical order, Adelaide is a fantastic opening song that sets the tone for the entire compilation. 

After The Show has a fantastic rhythm. I love it!

Anastasia Changes Her Mind isn’t fundamentally bad, but I have a love/hate relationship with semi-spoken word songs. That said, there are elements here, where Kelly begins to sing the lyrics, that are really enjoyable, but it isn’t enough to fully captivate me. 

Be Careful What You Pray For is a killer moody tune. 

Beautiful Promise is, pardon the pun, beautiful!

Before Too Long is one of Kelly’s most recognisable songs and is always sensational. 

Beggar On The Street Of Love is a great song, but I feel the mix isn’t quite right as Kelly’s vocal is just a little too forward for my liking. A shame, considering how much I genuinely love this song.

Behind The Bowler’s Arm is toe-tapping, head-bopping, gold. Magnificent!

Big Fine Girl has an incredible rhythm that will get your entire body moving. 

Blues For Skip is an incredible lo-fi tune, from a musical perspective, that allows Kelly’s vocal to shine.  

Bradman isn’t a bad homage to the legendary Australian cricketer. As a song, however, I have mixed feelings. It works, really well, but isn’t necessarily a song from Kelly’s catalog that I would seek out.

(The) Cake And The Candle is an incredible song and comes through with such transparency that you’d swear Kelly was in the same room as you. Music, especially live performances, that reach this sense of realism are difficult to find but are well worth it as your stereo system will never sound better.

Careless is an incredible song and this is one stunning performance. 

Change Your Mind is incredible!

Charlie Owen’s Slide Guitar is a solid tune, perhaps nothing to write home about, but enjoyable nevertheless.

Cities Of Texas is, for lack of a better term, a B-side. It works well in the flow of The A To Z Recordings, but as a song on its own, somewhat misses the mark. 

Coma is smooth, yet rough and ready. The contrast makes the song compelling and is a toe-tapper’s delight.  

Cradle Of Love is simply beautiful. 

Deeper Water is a good song, but I feel there are too many musical layers in this particular recording and, as such, my mind finds it difficult to connect with a specific rhythm. 

Desdemona is absolutely brilliant. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’d love to hear Neil Young cover this classic. 

Difficult Woman is magnificently moody. One of Kelly’s best without a doubt. 

Don’t Explain is fantastic. 

Don’t Harm The Messenger is a solid song and really comes into its own during the chorus and the final minute of the song. 

Don’t Stand So Close To The Window is a catchy tune that is thoroughly enjoyable.

Don’t Start Me Talking isn’t bad, but it isn’t a standout song either. 

Down To My Soul is utterly amazing and a hidden gem.

Dumb Things is one of my all-time favourite Paul Kelly songs. I first heard it when I saw the Yahoo Serious film Young Einstein and I haven’t forgotten it since. A great Aussie film with an exceptional soundtrack. This rendition retains everything that made the studio recording perfect and is beyond reproach.   

Emotional is simply stunning! 

Every F*****g City is average at best, but if this is a low in Kelly’s catalog, then he has absolutely nothing to worry about.

Everybody Wants To Touch Me is mediocre and it’s a shame because I’d enjoy the song more if the musicality was presented in a lower register. 

Everything’s Turning To White is another song in Kelly’s catalog that I’m not a fan of. It doesn’t mean it’s bad, of course, just that it doesn’t appeal to me and that I wouldn’t seek it out to listen to independently.

(The) Foggy Fields Of France is a fun little toe-tapping song. 

Foggy Highway is utterly brilliant with a great, but simple, rhythm that allows the music lover to immediately connect with the song. 

Forty Miles To Saturday Night is enjoyable but I feel the mix is a little out as I would have liked the instrumental elements to be boosted, perhaps by a decibel, as it almost sounds as though two different songs are struggling for the attention of the listener. 

Forty-Eight Angels has a compelling vocal delivery that I’ve always adored. Such a great tune!

From Little Things Big Things Grow is a song that everyone in Australia has heard, even if they didn’t know it was a Paul Kelly tune, for the song was used for a major marketing campaign for Industry Superfunds Australia (ISA). Subsequently, as much as I love this protest song, sometimes I am reminded of the advertisement; the aim of the marketing campaign of course, but I would much prefer to simply enjoy the song and reflect on the initial intent of the song. It’s interesting that Kelly gave ISA permission to use the song as I perceive no correlation. Nevertheless, if it brings about greater awareness, then one can suggest it isn’t a bad thing and even if you don’t listen to music for its literal interpretation, From Little Things Big Things Grow is one of the greatest songs ever written, by anyone, anywhere in the world. 

From St Kilda To Kings Cross is beautiful. 

Gathering Storm is short and sweet; so very sweet. I love it!

God Told Me To has an incredible twang but unlike Forty Miles To Saturday Night, I feel the instrumental element is a little too loud thereby taking away from Kelly’s incredible vocal delivery. 

(The) Gift That Keeps On Giving could have been the perfect title for this compilation. As a song on its own, (The) Gift That Keeps On Giving is an excellent composition and is thoroughly enjoyable.

Glory Be To God is sonically splendid. I could listen to Glory Be To God on repeat for an eternity. 

Going About My Father’s Business is yet another great song. There really isn’t a bad song in Kelly’s catalog, just ones that I connect with more than others.

How To Make Gravy is an excellent song that reminds me of Bob Dylan. Yes, there are many correlations between the two artists, but this is the one song that Kelly performs that instantly reminds me of Dylan. Not a bad thing, just an observation. 

I Can’t Believe We Were Married is a great tune.

I Close My Eyes And Think Of You is one of the most beautiful songs Kelly has ever penned and sung. No wonder he is a legend! 

I Don’t Know Anything Anymore is hypnotic. What’s not to like? I Don’t Know Anything Anymore Is one of the most relaxing songs you’ll ever listen to and my only complaint is that it is too short; although it’s perfect!

I Keep On Coming Back For More will get your body moving as the groove and vocal delivery is spectacular.

I’d Rather Go Blind is utterly brilliant and an absolute favourite of mine. 

If I Could Start Today Again is a lovely song that has flowed incredibly well, despite the alphabetical order, from the previous several songs proving just how consistently good Paul Kelly is as a songwriter and musician. 

I Wasted Time is solid, but isn’t anything to write home about. 

I Won’t Be Your Dog is stunning. You’ll want to turn up the volume and close your eyes while listening to this song. The slight echo in Kelly’s vocal really sets the song apart from the others on this compilation and while it is most likely unintentional and a result of the recording space, I find it adds a sense of depth that makes you sit up and take notice. 

Jandamarra/Pigeon is okay, but is ultimately a B-side from my perspective. 

Jump To Love is a great tune. Another one to play continuously on repeat? I think so!

Just About The Break is such a low, smooth, delicate song that it’s simply beautiful. 

King Of Fools is a solid song, but is nothing to write home about. 

Lately has a swing to it that could have easily come out of the 1930s or 1940s. It’s a great tune. 

Leaps And Bounds is a sonic wonderland. 

Little Boy, Don’t Lose Your Balls is a great song with a wit that is brilliant.

Love Is The Law is a little too campy for my liking. As with all other songs on this compilation, it isn’t bad, but if it were not part of this collection, I wouldn’t play it as a song on its own. 

Love Never Runs On Time has a killer harmonica and is overall a good tune. Nothing spectacular, but nothing offensive either. 

Luck is a solid tune. 

Maralinga (Rainy Land) is one of Kelly’s greatest songs. Sensational!

Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air is an a cappella song and is beautiful.

Midnight Rain has an incredible instrumental backing that enhances Kelly’s vocal perfectly.

My Way Is To You compels me to close my eyes as the musicality and Kelly’s vocal takes me on a sonic journey that has to be experienced to be fully understood. 

No You offers nothing to write home about, but isn’t fundamentally bad. No You just doesn’t stand out from the crowd, which is an issue in a compilation as broad as The A To Z Recordings.

Nothing But A Dream is an incredible song and that higher-pitched choral approach is so enjoyable and makes me think that this is a Paul Kelly song that would be perfect for Crowded House or Neil Finn, in particular, to cover. 

(The) Oldest Story In The Book has a catchy tune and chorus line that ensures it’s memorable. It’s another song that is amongst Kelly’s greatest. 

One More Tune is lovely. 

Other People’s Houses is a great song. Even though I’m not an overzealous fan of spoken word lyrics, Other People’s Houses is perfectly balanced and simply sounds right. I couldn’t imagine this song any other way and I’m glad it exists as it does. My only problem is that I can’t decide if I prefer this edition or the original studio release. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter as both are exceptional!

Our Sunshine has an old-west feel with a country twang. I love it!

Please Myself has a stellar vocal shift and distortion throughout. Add a simple rhythm and Please Myself most certainly pleases this fan. 

Pretty Place is a solid tune, but ultimately a B-side. 

(The Ballad Of) Queenie And Rover is, as Pretty Place is, a B-side for this listener. 

Rally Round The Drum is a great, meat and potatoes, tune. Sometimes that is all you need. 

Randwick Bells is a solid track, but nothing to write home about. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I have a love/hate relationship with semi-spoken songs. I find them compelling but then at the same time, I’d much prefer to have a little more rhythm to toe-tap and head-bop to as well as sing along to. That said, the closing minute largely negates this thought.

Saturday Night And Sunday Morning is a great tune. It’s time to get that acoustic air guitar out, for I adore that guitar strumming and the tuning of the instrument on this track.  

Shane Warne is largely unforgettable but is a rather cool and humorous homage to the Australian cricketer. 

Smoke Under The Bridge is a lovely, hypnotic, tune. It is, as many of Kelly’s songs are, incredibly relaxing. 

Somebody’s Forgetting Somebody is a solid song, but not a standout. Although, that harmonica is a pure pleasure to listen to. 

Somewhere In The City is magnificent!

South Of Germany as a vocal-only song is spectacular and showcases just how incredible Kelly’s vocal prowess is and how much control he has over it. 

Standing On The Street Of Early Sorrows is a song that I wouldn’t necessarily gravitate towards when thinking of Paul Kelly, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it every time I hear it as the vocal delivery and backing is glorious. 

Stolen Apples is a great tune and while Crowded House write their own songs, I’d love to hear them cover this one.  

Stories Of Me is an incredible, multi-layered, acoustic tune.

Stupid Song is anything but stupid. I love it! 

Summer Rain is average at best. Yes, it works well within the compilation but as a song on its own, I just don’t find it compelling. 

Sweet Guy is incredible and Kelly’s vocal delivery is the definition of perfection.  

Sydney From A 747 isn’t bad, but it isn’t anything to write home about. Although, the intermingling guitars make this one enjoyable song. 

They Thought I Was Asleep is an incredible story-based song. 

Thoughts In The Middle Of The Night is stunning. The music will envelop you and Kelly is most certainly in the room with you when you listen to this track. An exceptional song and a stunning recording. 

To Her Door is a well-known masterpiece. One of Kelly’s most recognisable recordings and arguably one of his very best. 

Until Death Do Them Part isn’t bad, but it isn’t great. It simply exists and sometimes that is good enough. I wouldn’t, however, hold up Until Death Do Them Part as a defining moment in Kelly’s recording career. 

When I First Met Your Ma is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish and is, in my opinion, a hidden gem. I love it!

Winter Coat is a great tune. I adore Kelly’s vocal on this recording and his control over his vocal is most certainly impressive. 

Won’t You Come Around? has a great rhythm that will get your body moving and once again that harmonica steals the stage. 

Would You Be My Friend? is astonishingly good and sounds as though Kelly is singing to you, in a private concert. Sensational!

You Broke A Beautiful Thing is, pun intended, a beautiful thing! 

You Can Put Your Shoes Under My Bed isn’t a bad song, but it isn’t anything to write home about either. 

You Can’t Take It With You is such a good song with a sensational rhythm and a fantastic lyrical meaning. 

Your Little Sister Is A Big Girl Now has a killer intermingling guitar track; such an enjoyable song! 

Young Lovers is one of Kelly’s most beautiful songs. It isn’t necessarily the story he tells via the song, but it is the way he performs it that makes Young Lovers one very special song indeed.

You’re 39, You’re Beautiful And You’re Mine is a lovely tune. 

Your Loving Is On My Mind has always been one of my favourite Paul Kelly tracks and leaves me somewhat speechless; it is that good! 

Zoe is a solid song and while it may have taken over 6 hours to get to this stage, if you’re like me, you’re likely going to go back to Adelaide and listen to this masterpiece again. 

Whether you’re going on a road trip, going about your daily routine, or sitting intently absorbing every element of Kelly’s performances, you’re bound to adore this collection of songs for it is some of the finest singer-songwriter music you’re ever likely to hear, anywhere, by anyone.  

If you’d be more content with an abridged version, a Best Of The A To Z Recordings (2LP vinyl release) is available. 

A Deluxe Edition including Kelly’s memoir, How To Make Gravy, is also available as well as the standard 8-CD release, and a digital release on iTunes

If you’re remotely interested in Paul Kelly, then this compilation is a must-own. While it isn’t as concise as Greatest Hits – Songs From The South, Vols. 1 & 2, it will give you hours of bliss and a deeper view into the wonder that is Paul Kelly.  

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Diesel – Singled Out (Album Review)

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Diesel – Singled Out (Album Review)

Diesel (the performance name of Mark Lizotte) may have been born stateside, but us Australian’s call him one of our own. He is for all intents and purposes an Aussie; one of our greatest. I must acknowledge, however, that despite being very familiar with his work, I haven’t owned any of his records. Yes, you read that correctly. Perhaps it was that he was everywhere, constantly on the radio and television, that I didn’t feel the need to collect his albums. Regardless, as I listen to Singled Out, a compilation more so than an album, I’m finding myself singing along, knowing every beat, and reflecting on how these songs sound against their original counterparts. 

Singled Out isn’t your standard compilation, hence why I’ve classed this review as an album review. It is, in fact, an unplugged release with intermingled live tracks from Diesel’s 2004 tour schedule. On paper, that is perhaps a little perplexing as one may wonder how the variation between live and studio reinterpretations impact the flow of the album. Well, it quite frankly doesn’t. The mixing and mastering, as well as the recording of the performances, is superb and therefore ensures the live elements, while present, aren’t overly distractive, resulting in a seamless flow of spectacular music.  

Released only on CD, Singled Out was also re-issued as Greatest Hits Acoustic with a godawful cover. The original cover was perfect and I honestly have no idea why the record label thought it was a good idea to change it. Okay, so perhaps they wanted to boost sales. I get that. But at least put something relating to Diesel on the cover. It is so nondescript that it borders on the mundane and wouldn’t be welcome in any music collection if it weren’t for the exceptional music contained within. Thankfully, when it comes to streaming, Apple Music has the original artwork. Let’s hope that someone at label deleted or burned the alternate 2012 artwork. If they haven’t, and if they’re reading this, do the Australian Music Industry a favour and make sure that the reissued cover never, ever, sees the light of day again. 

Don’t Need Love was the first single from Johnny Diesel And The Injectors (yes, Johnny Diesel is Diesel) and Don’t Need Love is simply a killer tune. The original is brilliant, released in 1988 and achieving top 10 chart success in Australia and New Zealand, but there is something very special about this acoustic rendition that just sounds right. Even if you adore the pop/rock styling of the original, I dare say you’ll be blown away by this rendition. It’s bloody brilliant! 

She Won’t Need Words is absolutely beautiful. 

Everybody’s Talkin’ is a cover of the classic Fred Neil song and while it has been covered by a who’s who of the music industry, Diesel pays homage to the original, all the covers that have come before it, while also ensuring that his interpretation is original and well suited to his musical style. It’s a great song and a really good cover.

Would I Want You has a sensation country twang that I simply adore. It’s one of the best songs on the album and all I can suggest is that you turn the lights down, the volume up, and allow yourself to be consumed by this instrumental masterpiece. 

Tip Of My Tongue was another top 10 hit and I swear every Aussie knows the lyrics to this song. Released originally on Diesel’s debut solo album, Hepfidelity, in 1992 it would go on to become a trademark song and one can understand why as the hook is sensational and the rhythm simply connects perfectly with the soul. As should be clear by now, most of Diesel’s music had an acoustic undertone to begin with so the shift from straight rock to an unplugged sound isn’t a fundamental shift ensuring that Tip Of My Tongue, and all the songs on Singled Out simply feel right. 

One More Time is a great song, but I feel the mix is slightly off with this particular recording as Diesel’s vocal is a little concealed in the mix. There’s also a little too much audience interaction present in the mix and while it’s good to hear the fans enjoying the performance, it does impact the recording and I feel that the song would have been significantly stronger without this element. Nevertheless, it is what it is and it’s still a great song but I much prefer the original album release. There is, however, another acoustic version of the album that was issued in 1993 on Diesel’s The Lobbyist. I like that version better and if you compare it to the interpretation on Singled Out, you’ll notice the earlier acoustic recording has a much better mix.   

Soul Revival is a great song and this rendition is superb; much better than the original in my opinion. 

15 Feet Of Snow is an amazing song and while similar in tempo to Tip Of My Tongue, Diesel takes this acoustic rendition to another level of brilliance. I love the original studio release, but the transition to an acoustic song is remarkable as is Diesel’s vocal presentation. Absolutely amazing and thoroughly captivating.   

Come Around is a great song, perhaps nothing to write home about, but great nonetheless. 

All Come Together is one of my favourite Diesel songs and this unplugged edition is utterly brilliant. 

Darling Of The Universe is a solid song, but if there is a B-side to be found on this release, it is Darling Of The Universe. 

Come To Me is a fantastic song, but I can’t help but feel that there is a little too much ‘fancy’ guitar playing on this acoustic edition that subsequently takes away from the vocal performance. Yes, the original is multilayered, hence requiring ‘fancy’ acoustical elements, but perhaps it was simply one song that didn’t translate well to the unplugged nature of this album. 

Faith And Gasoline is so good. Such a beautiful song. I love it! It’s a shame that the song closes out rather suddenly. Subsequently, I’d have to say that I prefer the original studio recording available on Hear as the ending isn’t quite as abrupt, allowing me to savour the song before the next song begins.

Cry In Shame is arguably Diesel’s most well-known song, released under the Johnny Diesel And The Injectors moniker. Of course, it’s also Diesel’s most confusing vocal for those of us who enjoy karaoke. Seriously, listen to the song and sing along, then try not to sing crying shame, but cry in shame. It’s a challenge! Nevertheless, it is absolutely brilliant and a perfect choice for the closing song on this release as it encourages me to listen to the album again and delve deeper into Diesel’s extensive catalogue. 

Overall, Singled Out is one exceptional release that really showcases just how talented Diesel is when the musicality is stripped back to its bare essentials. It’s quite remarkable to reflect on just how many exceptional songs Diesel has released throughout his career and while he has recorded new music continuously since this release, there is little doubt that this compilation represents some of his very best works. It really is worthy of every music lover’s collection; just make sure you pick up a copy with the original artwork.

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Diana Ah Naid – Self-Titled (Album Review)

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Diana Ah Naid – Self-Titled (Album Review)

Sonically positioned somewhere between Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morissette is Australia's own, Diana Ah Naid. Ian McFarlane describes this 1997 independent, self-funded, release as a restless, funky brand of acoustic guitar folk with urgently charged vocals backed by an emotional, primal energy – Encyclopedia of Australian Rock And Pop. I don't know about you, dear reader, but McFarlane is spot on and no amount of pondering on my behalf could come up with a more precise review of this thoroughly satisfying Self-Titled release. That said, join me as I take a look at the individual songs and how I subjectively feel about them and the entire album.

I Go Off is a musical wonderland with nothing more than a vocal and guitar track filling the soundstage. While both are beautifully presented and recorded, Ah Nard's vocal prowess is simply astonishing. How she isn't a household name, is an absolute mystery.

If You Insist has a beautiful introduction. That guitar tuning is stunning and provides the perfect backing to the song. In some ways, it is a little too similar to I Go Off, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing as it develops a sound that allows the listener to identify and connect with the artist.

Fill Me Up has a good rhythm and a very alternative vocal presentation that is perfect for the style of music. The added brass instrumentation really builds a sonically pleasurable soundstage that ensures Fill Me Up is memorable and ready to be played on repeat. If you enjoy World Music, you'll love Fill Me Up.

See Through is an interesting composition that is a little scattered in places, but the hook is catchy. A solid addition to the album, but nothing to write home about.

Make It Begin is sonic gold. That musical introduction is magical as the piano is beautifully recorded. You really need to listen for yourself to appreciate just how amazing it is. Make It Begin may be mellow, but it’s one of the best songs on the album, if not the best. Absolutely stunning!

Wrapped Around My Head is a lovely tune but fails to fully captivate my senses. I find my mind wandering when listening to the song.

Ruok? is short, but spectacular!

Get Yourself Lost is a little too erratic and subsequently, I find it difficult to connect with a specific rhythm.

Leaving The Country is a gorgeous tune. Ah Naid's vocal presentation is mind-blowingly good. It is as if an angel is singing to you, and only you.

Flowers is a B-side that I simply can't get into.

K9 is musically impressive, but I have to be honest and say I would much prefer for it to have been an instrumental interlude as the vocal distracts the listener from the musicality.

Freaky Animals is an interesting tune that I enjoy, but I also have reservations with the child vocal inclusion towards the end as I'm not sure it suits the song. There is also an error on the Apple Music stream whereby this song continues in silence for a further minute and a half. It's a shame as the error makes you think the album has concluded, but there is one more song to be played as the original CD release had a hidden 13th untitled track. That track is now listed in Apple Music as Schlork Your S*****g. Subsequently, it looks as though the album has been uploaded directly from the CD and it infuriates me when this happens. I've never liked bonus hidden tracks, and this is further proof that they should be abolished. Albums that include this common CD-feature should, at the very least, be re-tracked when uploaded to streaming music services. 

Despite my above complaint, Schlork Your S*****g is an interesting track to conclude the album with. The chorus does drive me mad, but I appreciate the artistic intent and the verses are strong enough to hold the song together ensuring I’ll play the album again and continue to explore Ah Naid's catalogue. Speaking of that, it is important to note that all post-2004 releases by Diana Ah Naid are released as Diane Anaid

Overall, Diana Ah Naid's Self-Titled debut is thoroughly enjoyable and while I have some reservations, as detailed above, all songs work extremely well in the album format.

Diana Ah Naid's Self-Titled debut is available for purchase on iTunes, or if you prefer streaming, the album is available on Apple Music.

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Angus & Julia Stone – Self-Titled (Album Review)

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Angus & Julia Stone – Self-Titled (Album Review)

To listen to Angus & Julia Stone is to experience nirvana. The Australian sibling duo is astonishingly good, pumping out songs in the keys of indie-pop and folk rock while maintaining an acoustic-based singer-songwriter style that will leave you in pure amazement.

Teaming up with superstar producer, Rick Rubin, I was initially concerned that this Self-Titled release might be compromised as Rubin is known for his involvement in the loudness wars, producing low dynamic range albums such as Metallica's Death Magnetic and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Californication. While one has to acknowledge that this Self-Titled release is right on the border, sonically this level of compression and distortion works incredibly well with the style of music and the Stone siblings’, often lower chord, vocal presentation. That said, the soundstage is rather expansive, allowing all sonic elements space, in the mix, to breathe.

As I’ve listened to the Self-Titled Angus & Julia Stone release on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Apple Music, I can say conclusively that there is no sonic difference between the two as the lossy Apple Music stream matches the lossless CD-quality streamed via TIDAL Hi-Fi. This is yet another example that validates that if the master is the same, there is little-to-no perceivable difference.

A Heartbreak sets the tone of the album and you'll clearly hear the distortion on this song just teetering into the red. It would have been nice to have the master reduced by a couple of decibels as the song is louder than the following tracks. Nevertheless, it's a great song to commence the album on.

My Word For It has a killer psychedelic sound signature that is simply addictive. Julia's smooth vocal is absolutely captivating on this song as she's right there in the room with you. A fantastic mix!

Grizzly Bear has an offbeat beginning, but once the musicality picks up, the rhythm will have you toe-tapping and head-bopping uncontrollably. An absolutely beautiful song!

Heart Beats Slow is a great song that I’d love to hear Stevie Nicks cover with Neil Finn.

Wherever You Are has a stunning acoustic introduction that builds progressively with a beat that will connect with your inner soul. While there are a number of vocal shifts throughout, that may deter some listeners, I feel it works extremely well given this song is largely stripped down from a production standpoint.

Get Home is lovely!

Death Defying Acts is moody and I love it! One of the best songs on the album and that is difficult to declare as the entire album is a masterpiece. If there were one criticism to be made, it would be the drum track is not as spacious as I would like in some sections. That said, it does work with the darker tone of the song.

Little Whiskey has a fantastically compelling beat, but it is very much a song that is on the alternative side of the siblings’ offerings. That may not appeal to all listeners, but I feel it flows perfectly with the surrounding tracks.

From The Stalls is a great song. May I suggest you sit in a relaxing chair, with your eyes closed, and allow the musicality to involuntarily take control of your muscles as you'll be toe-tapping and swaying in no time.

Other Things shouldn’t work musically, as it is a little left of the centre, yet it absolutely does.

Please You is such a mellow song. Beautiful!

Main Street is pure sonic gold and in many ways leaves me speechless. Therefore, I feel it is only right to suggest you experience it for yourself.

Crash And Burn, as Ian McFarlane rightly suggests in The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock And Pop, invokes a memory of the sonic signature often associated with Neil Young and Crazy Horse. That is, of course, a compliment. Crash And Burn is the perfect song to close the album on as it encourages me to listen to this Self-Titled release again and stay within Angus & Julia Stone's catalogue.

This Self-Titled album is a masterpiece. Nothing more really needs to be said other than it’s worth the hour to just sit and listen. I'm sure you won't regret it, I know I haven’t.

Angus & Julia Stone's Self-Titled album is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, Angus & Julia Stone's Self-Titled album is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Apple Music.

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