By Kim Cheshire.
As any of my friends will attest, I’m not really big on sentimentality and I like to think that I have a finely tuned bullshit barometer, so when asked to appraise the commercial version of someone’s personal life story my sensory apparatus is usually set on high alert.
Australia’s finest country singer Troy Cassar Daley is about to release both his autobiography and an album of music co-documenting his life’s journey. Well, so far – he is only 46 after all. Anyway as for the musical bio, I hit Play on the opening track ‘Funny How Things Change’ and within a few bars was pleasantly carried away with a breezy country rock groove, some unsophisticated Bob Dylan style suck and blow harmonica and a tale about how it ain’t like it used to be. More a philosophical pondering than lament – a few touching observations, a gorgeous melody and that voice that’s just incredibly hard to resist.
‘That was painless,’ I thought, ‘well, it is the opening track. Nothing too cloying there and you’ve got to start strong but hey, I’m not dropping my guard.’
We move quickly into swampy groove, some tasty blues guitar licks and a thoroughly convincing (true) blue collar tale from, as I discovered in his book, a period in his early twenties.
“That chainsaw’s singing the same old song, across the hardwood red and strong, a nine pound hammer gripped in my hand, I’m a Halfway Creek Timber Cutting Man”
Closing its’ infectious groove with a false ending and searing guitar led coda, played with style by the man himself. Thankfully, my fears are subsiding.
‘Things I Carry Around’ is potentially far more dangerous territory as gentle acoustic guitar and soft brushes fill the speakers and Grandpa is mentioned in the opening line. I’m waiting for the BS meter to kick in, but I’m so entranced by the gorgeous resonant tonality of the singing (bringing to mind the wonderful Gene Watson in his prime) that I’m off on country music cloud nine. A few more bars and any thoughts of unconvincing emotional authenticity or overwrought sentimentality are gone for good, and by the time the track winds up I’m almost in tears.
Tears for what? I ponder as I question my own surprising yet genuinely felt response.
Troy’s personal mementos of the important things in his life?
The recent loss of Merle Haggard whose ghost hangs heavy over Troy’s music on any given day? Or the sad loss of the kind of country music that’s meant so much to me for so long?
At this point I’m really not sure, and as ‘A Cold Walk Home’, the first of two short musical preludes takes over, I’m allowed a little time to meditate on my unexpected reaction.
Read the rest in Issue 82…