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December 08, 2006

Ned Collette – Jokes and Trials

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Ned Collette

I’ve been in Australia for two weeks, and New Zealand for five months almost, so I figured I should at least be checking out some of the local music around. Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit shit in that regard, opting out or risking money on names I’ve not heard of, but I’ve been surprised after reading this review and buying the album, that no-one else has picked out Australian Ned Collette for making a surprisingly great solo album (away from his group, City City City, who I’ve not heard). It’s only the second time I’ve ever bought an album on the strength of one review (the other being CYHSY, go hipster me) and I’m beginning to wonder whether I should trust my internal sincere musical radar more often (I’ve avoided I’m From Barcelona so far at least).

Back to the music, Mr. Collette has produced a fine set of tunes that are not perfect, but showcase enough charm and diversity in the arrangements to make it worthy of a purchase to any fan of folk. Opener Song For Louis begins with a trademark Nick Drake fingerpicked melody before his more assured, confident and slightly rough (sandy, some might say) voice breaks through with a touching paean to a friend. Female vocals and electric guitar join in briefly to add a sweet touch before fading into the enjoyable instrumental reprise, The Happy Kidnapper.

Each of the songs holds unique arrangements past the standard acoustic foundation, a bouncing beat here (Boulder), slide guitar there (A Plea For You Through Me), handclaps and a psychadelic synth line out of nowhere (Janet) and this is all without mentioning the glorious centrepiece of The Laughter Across the Street. Laughter starts with another picked line, and the same, almost reassuringly so, tone of Ned’s vocals come in, soon accompanied by double bass and more picking arrangements. A choir and violin section sooth you through another few stanzas before you realise the focus start to shift. Suddenly, the quiet ‘do-do-do’s that were hushed moments ago have been backed by another bouncing electric guitar line, choirs build, drums nudge their way in and squelching synth bubble underneath to really work the song into something special. It’s no wonder that you can hear a slight applause at the end.

The only downer for me in the whole album is the monotonous Heaven’s the Key, but I can accept that for all the unexpected joy the rest of the songs have provided. So here’s a few so you can decide for yourself:

Ned Collette – Song For Louis
Ned Collette – The Laughter Across The Street (from Cokemachineglow.com)
Ned Collette – Janet

MP3s removed by request

BUY THE ALBUM IF YOU CAN FIND IT GADDAMN!
Best Bet is the Ned Collette Store


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