Rich Davies & The Devil’s Union
Reviewed by Les Thomas
Rich Davies cites Bruce Springsteen as his greatest musical hero, so anyone familiar with the Nebraska album will find immediate lyrical connections in the opening track I Died in the Morning Sun. There’s a long drive across state lines, danger, violent death from the barrel of a gun. Musically the sounds are sparse, a mournful whale-song of strings and gentle piano. Vocally, Davies inhabits a song like a method actor inhabits a character, to the point that you worry how he got the shiner on his right eye on the album cover. Every inflection of his voice is used to hold lyrical tension until song’s end.
Hear This Violence lifts the pace and gives definite nods to more British sounds perhaps like Depeche Mode at their most dramatic or Matt Johnson (The The). The deep grungy bass and rocking chorus of Buy Me a Pony are offset by a plaintive piano that adds another dimension to the song.
Run Catriona is the most purely acoustic track of the album, with unadorned voice, guitar and violin, sung from the perspective of a man so gripped by violence he’d beat down Jesus himself given the opportunity. But there’s more to get the hardline Christians worked into a lather with what has to be one of the best song names to come out of Melbourne, God Hates the Westboro Baptist Church. Google them if you’re not sure why. In spite of the records strong orientation to the dark side of human nature, there is always room for humour and a rocking good time.
With a formidable list of players behind him, and production oversight by Matt Storey (Howl At The Moon), Rich Davies has put together an artistically strong, great sounding, original album that deserves to be heard widely and often.
Rich Davies & The Devil’s Union launch their album at The Retreat Hotel, Brunswick on Friday 18 November
with Plastic Palace Alice supporting.