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On "Carried in Mind" the trademark qualities of Jeff Lang’s playing resonate stronger than ever, displaying not only a guitarist of gob-smacking talent, but a songwriter of the highest order. Each protagonist draws us into their world, leaving us wondering what will happen when the song ends, and what might have transpired just before. We witness grand acts of cowardice present in songs like ‘Frightened Fool’ alongside the humble stoicism seen in ‘Mama, Why You Holding Back Now?’. The interplay of temptation, resistance and surrender dances just as wildly around vast landscapes and domestic environments, moving from the country’s red centre to a lover’s bedroom. The blood, fear and velocity of songs like ‘Running By the Rock’ are well met by the cool quiet of ‘Fisherman’s Farewell’. Sounding as ancient as a traditional folk ballad, 'Newbridge' details a heartbreaking act of matricide, in which Lang returns strikingly to singing in the female voice, showing all too well how aware he is of the ironies and often untold violence of this world. It’s a stark juxtaposition with the tender lullaby ‘Way past Midnight’, which soothes us after the epic journey that is Carried In Mind.
As with most of Lang’s collection, it was recorded live in the studio, with long time musical partners in crime Grant Cummerford (bass) and Danny McKenna (drums). The addition of Garrett Costigan on pedal steel feels so natural that one might mistake his presence on earlier albums. Alison Ferrier’s brief appearance singing backing vocals on the track she co-wrote with Lang breathes harmony and stillness into the album, which is ripe with the rhythms of work, life, and loving.
Of his new recording, Lang says, ‘...(this is) a batch of brand-new, reconditioned, rust-removed, freshly ventilated, instinct-driven musical conversations between sleep-deprived, cheaply-clothed, (mostly) freshly-shaven, (partially) clean-living, flinty-eyed gentlemen wielding precision instruments with all due care and respect.
The title refers to the kind of hauntings that prey on everyday people, growing from common stuff, things that seemed innocuous at the time: a half-heard comment that stays with you after most other events from that night in that bar have sunk back into the blotting paper; words that ricochet between your memory and the paranoid voices in your head, back-and-forth, over-and-over, until they've spun around enough to have mutated into something possibly more sinister; something more laden with secret meanings than you might have a right to speculate on. The title deals with memories. As do many of the songs, in their own way.
Of the limited edition disc that will be released alongside the album, he continues, ‘I thought it might be interesting for people who enjoy Carried In Mind to hear some of the songs in a different setting, stripped back to a single instrument for example, or even done in a different style.’. This is why ‘Running By the Rock’ appears backed only by a fan-driven harmonium, hanging in time and space, and why ‘Jack-A-Roe’ is given an acoustic treatment with lap steel to contrast with the band arrangement on the album.
Jeff Lang launches Carried In Mind nationally in September and October, supported Jordie Lane. Details are available on Jeff’s website: www.jefflang.com.au.
Carried In Mind National Launch Tour Dates:
Saturday 17 Mecca Theatre, Warburton
Friday 23 The Vanguard, Sydney
Saturday 24 The Basement, Sydney
Sunday 25 Lizotte’s Newcastle
Thursday 29 Kinross Woolshed Hotel
Friday 30 Tathra Hotel
Saturday 1 Great Southern Blues Festival, Narooma
Sunday 2 The Street Theatre, Canberra
Friday 7 Jive Bar, Adelaide
Saturday 8 Fly By Night, Perth
Sunday 9 Indi Bar, Scarborough, WA
Thursday 13 Republic Bar, Hobart
Friday 14 Caravan Music Club, Melbourne *
Saturday 15 Corner Hotel, Melbourne *
Sunday 16 Way Out West Blues Club, Williamstown *
Friday 21 Sol Bar, Maroochydore
Saturday 22 Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane
Sunday 23 Mullumbimby Civic Hall, Mullumbimby
Friday 28 Waves, Wollongong
Saturday 29 The Clarendon, Katoomba
Sunday 30 Sydney Blues Festival, Windsor
* Suzannah Espie also appearing as support
Details and booking info here: www.jefflang.com.au