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ALBUM REVIEW: William Crighton – Empire

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William Crighton’s debut album had him pegged as an Americana/gothic rock songwriter – all fire and brimstone and heart on sleeve emotion. Now, on his sophomore album, he’s expanded his stylistic palette into a whole range of sonic shades and textures.

The intense and impassioned preacher is still railing from the pulpit but now you get to see a much more intimate person with love songs (Julieanne and the Beatles-esque Morning Sun) and displays of the simple joys of life through the eyes of an insect (Happiness). Musically Crighton and band, under the expert eyes and ears of producer Matt Sherrod (Crowded House/Beck drummer), explore new sounds and shapes such as the post-punk clatter of Rejoice, the shadowy gothic balladry of Mr Brown and Sadness, the Tom Petty guitar referencing 999 and the raw and riveting Someone, with guest vocals from Gawurra. It’s an example of how well Crighton incorporates uniquely Australian elements into his music – in tune with the land and people yet devoid of cliche. A closing cover of Eric Bogle’s The Band Played Waltzing Matilda brings a solemnity and weariness to the song.

It all amounts to a very strong second record, a creative progression and evidence of a songwriter with plenty to say and a willingness to experiment with all manner of musical ingredients to best complement his songs.

Chris Familton

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