Pulling a crowd for an Americana gig in Sydney can be a struggle at times yet the paltry turnout of a dozen people for a gig with a trio of fine, critically lauded acts was disappointing to say the least. To their credit the bands seemed relaxed and grateful for the enthusiasm of those in attendance, with all three playing excellent sets.
Jep And Dep warmed the room with their hypnotic country/folk. There was a real chemistry in the way the pair’s voices blended and contrasted in response to the requirements of each song. Their cover of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Confide In Me’ was entrancing with Jessica Cassar’s voice soaring like an ethereal torch singer, soulful and haunting in equal measures. Their own material was just as strong and demonstrated their ability to match their voices and Darren Cross’ guitar playing with accomplished songwriting.
Raised By Eagles released one of the finest Australian alt-country albums last year and they showed they can effectively translate their songs and performance from the studio to the stage. Luke Sinclair was the focal point of the band but all of the members were crucial elements in the weaving of subtle textures and melodies into the music, whether it was via upright bass, slide guitar or solid drumming. ‘Penny Drop’ and ‘Watching You Fall’ were particular examples of timeless, classic songwriting delivered with great sensitivity and musicality.
Matt Walker has been treading the boards for years now and in some ways Lost Ragas feels like the culmination of all his work to date. With a superb three-piece band behind him Walker delivered a soulful, at times visceral, country-based sound that could channel emotive Crazy Horse-esque simplicity as effectively as nervy, wired guitar workouts with shades of Television or rich four-part folk harmonies. Shane Reilly’s pedal steel was exceptional, conjuring electrical storms and heartache swoons behind Walker’s understated guitar and sleepy, lonely soul voice. It was a faultless performance that deserved a larger audience. For those in attendance it felt like a wonderful and intimate musical treat.