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ALBUM REVIEW: Skyscraper Stan – Golden Boy Vol. 1 & Vol. II

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SKYSCRAPER STAN
GOLDEN BOY VOL. I AND VOL. II
Heart Of The Rat Records

Stan Woodhouse has been roaming the bars of Australia and New Zealand for a decade now, winning over audiences with his brand of gothic tinged folk, rock ’n’ roll and country and cementing his reputation as a burgeoning talent, part of the same school as Marlon Williams, Cash Savage and Aldous Harding.

Golden Boy shifts its attention away from traditional Americana influences and finds a sound that balances vivid, narrative-driven poetry with self-analytical lyrics and a musical backdrop that gets both noisier and more restrained. The textures and arrangements that Woodhouse, co-producer Richard Stolz and the band have created are punchy, soulful, dynamic and heavily focused on the groove, making it a treat for both minds and hips.

Soul/gospel backing vocals add a lush and bittersweet tone to ‘Tarcutta Shade’ as Woodhouse paints vignettes of small Australian towns and the characters that pass through them. The album begins with a societal scene-setter in ‘Dole Queues & Dunhill Blues’, a lyric tour de force of imagery and damaged individuals. “Oh what a state! Twenty eight days straight drinking bottom shelf bourbon in the can, luke warm. He was pissing in the wind with a skinful, catatonic on the front lawn,’” he sings, like a manic storyteller or preacher as Oskar Herbig plays some fine guitar, as he does right across the album – firing off paint-peeling solos, shimmering distorted patinas and soft and subtle chord shapes. 

A more introspective clutch of songs populate the second half of the album. A Wurlitzer piano brings out a swirling soulfulness and encourages Woodhouse to stretch his voice into new and rich areas, as he does on the single ‘On Your Corner’. ‘Talk About The Weather (While The House Burns Down)’ lightens the mood in a sonic sense, while ‘Dancing On My Own Grave’ is a cautionary tale of drugs and the internal quandary of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle versus settling down and getting a ‘real job’. Woodhouse leaves us with the epic folk noir story of ‘Man Misunderstood’, the perfect end to a record that sounds superb yet is primarily built on the strength of its songwriting. 

Chris Familton

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