It may seem a tad peculiar that a band from the Inner West of Sydney could breathe genuine spirit and authenticity into Mexican-infused country music but Dusty Ravens have done just that on their second album.
Low Down Jimmy is the sound of desert dust, desperate souls, sin and salvation – all bathed in mood-heavy instrumentation. The central anchor to these dozen songs is Andy Meehan’s acoustic strum and austere voice, detailing the various characters and stories they inhabit. Swirling around Meehan is some exceptional brass playing from Maggie Raven and Kim Griffin and the rhythm section of Cath Golden and Mark Hetherington which provides the urgency and brisk tension in the music.
Two obvious reference points are the Mexicali sound of Calexico and Morricone’s western soundtracks yet the band add their own distinct stylings to the mix, with shades of gothic cow-punk (The Gun Club etc.) in the foreboding subject matter and often shadowy atmosphere. It amounts to a sound that is convincingly transferrable to the Australian outback and the parallel struggles of physical and emotional hardship that it often foments.
They cover The Triffid’s ‘Red Pony’ with aplomb but it’s the band’s originals that provide the highlights. From the beautiful pedal steel-driven closer ‘Still Got You’ to the melancholic ache of ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, Dusty Ravens create a 40 minute lost soundtrack to an visual anthology of the west.