DUSTY RAVENS – LOW DOWN JIMMY

Album number two from Sydney’s premier Mexicali ensemble is a fatalistic journey into the desolate dustbowl, Old West, and borderland frontier – and into certain fearful corners of the human soul (see the circling ravens of ‘Along the Line’). Opener ‘Low Down Jimmy’ bursts onto the mesa-studded scene with a blast of Mariachi horns and percussive acoustic strumming, while ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ is a standout saddle-sore western plaint, and the whistling intro of ‘The Tale of Suzie Lee’ lends an unmistakably Morricone tenor to proceedings, giving way to mounting urgency in the face of so much desolation. There’s ample ominous, foreboding

atmosphere throughout, all carried by forlorn pedal steel (‘Still Got Gold’) and mournful horns. Couched by sounds ranging from the sinuous Mexicali strains of ‘Federales Fight’ to the locomotive rollick through the mesquite of ‘Bordertown Train’, lead singer Andy Meehan and co-conspirator Maggie Raven relate their sepia-tinted tales with palpable, almost airless resignation. Gareth Hipwell