There are two types of journey – into the world, and into the heart. Roots musician Adrian Kosky’s third album, The High Side of the Low End, chronicles both.
Adrian Kosky- The High side of the Low End
Review by Jeff Glorfeld
Feel good music needn’t be simple minded, and warm and gentle do not equate with weak.
Adrian Kosky knows these things, and on his new CD he offers up 11 warm and gentle yet powerful little stories about places, people lives lived and food laced with humour that is wry and wise and maybe a little bittersweet.
But that’s life – you take it as it comes.
Kosky is an internationally acclaimed exponent of the mountain dulcimer, but when he’s home he hangs his hat in north -western Victoria.
Working again with Richard Pleasance in his Daylesford studio, the pair blend elements of folk and bluegrass with hot licks of blues, maybe some Celtic flavour and a distinctly Australian sense of fun.
Kosky sings in a mellow, easy voice and adds banjo and harmonica to his dulcimer, while pleasance handles the guitars, drums and everything else, along with sterling production.
Kosky’s songs are full of nuance; behind such seemingly light titles as “Hair in a Can” and “Small Country Town”, are the thoughts of a man facing up to the realities of his own ageing and the hard choices his kids face growing up in this world.
Review by Del Day Americana-UK 2006
Frivolity and fragility go hand in hand in the mountains it seems..
The mountain dulcimer is one hell of a weird beast. Looking like half a sideboard perched on your knees, it kind of resembles a primitive pedal steel without either the mother of pearl inlay or the bright chrome pick-ups. Yet it’s an instrument that is equally as versatile in the right hands. “The High Side Of The Low End” is effectively two albums in one – the first a highly amusing hillbilly jaunt through the bars and backwater towns of the American South; the second a much gentler reflection on life’s excesses and pains. Tracks such as the self-parodying ageist rebellion of “Hair In A Can,” to the ‘this is what I am, and I kinda like it’ stoicism of “Hillbilly Genocide,” Kosky offers a brand of rootsy swamp rock that would provide the ideal soundtrack to a day on the Glades on a gator hunt. It’s a hoot for sure.. Yet contrast this frivolity with the stark rural landscape of “Table Hill Road” or the poignant slab of rustic reality that is “Small Country Town” and it’s clear that alongside the six pack and gun rack goes a great deal of soul-searching. Kosky is joined by Richard Pleasance, who, besides taking care of most of the arrangements, also plays guitars, drums, percussion, bass, marimba and, as Kosky calls it, junk. In the sleevenotes there are a few telling words on the mountain dulcimer. “Some dulcimers sound like a guitar that lives in the mountains,” Kosky notes. “Some sound like a freight train, others have a deep twangin’ kind of funk.” On “The High Side Of The Low End” Kosky demonstrates that it’s possible to get one that can sound like all three. As he so eloquently puts it, “They can drone, wail, bend and trance, make ya boogie, get up and dance.”
Review by Leo Kattestaart
Alt -Country, Netherlands 2006
It was only at the beginning of this year that we reviewed Adrian Kosky’s second album, ‘Dirty White Music’. Unknowingly in this album lay the groundwork for the next. Now our attention is on his follow-up album. And here a certain alertness is needed, since this sympathetic singer songwriter from down-under proved with his previous album ‘Dirty White Music’ that he is no amateur.
Kosky is first and foremost a craftsman in search of perfection. And in that approach hides a danger. Generally speaking in the craftsmanship of perfection the danger of too perfect, too beautiful, too finished. However, with Kosky this is not the case. He knows how to create, or leave, a sufficient amount of rough edges in this truly beautiful work, a work dominated by banjo and various mountain dulcimers. This is also the case with his newest self composed album ‘The High Side and The Low End’. References? Basically just ordinary folk blues in optimal form. But in relation to atmosphere and ambiance occasionally think Guy Clarke (opening track ‘Dodgy Train’) and also think, in relation to the perfection, Jeff Talmadge. In the title track we even discover a touch of the Rolling stones.
Together, with multi instrumentalist Richard Pleasance (guitars, drums, percussion, marimba and bass) Kosky created eleven excellent songs, all in-house. There is, however, a difference with ‘Dirty White Music’ in that it takes a little more playtime for the gift to be truly revealed. In that way ‘The High Side of The Low End’ is a little less accessible and, at first listening, a little less interesting/intense. However, the allowed surplus of playtime, proves that Adrian Kosky has once again created a beautiful album. He has arrived.
After the release of ‘Dirty White Music’ Adrian Kosky spend quite some time in the United States, from Jacksonville to Seattle, from Memphis to New Orleans. The various influences he absorbed in these travels have been used to good effect in his exciting ‘Small Country Town’ as the track which most excited me. Kosky states two ways of travel: ‘Into the world and into the heart’. With his ‘The High Side of The Low End’ Kosky shows us both ways of travelling. Excellent album.
Review by Freddy Cellis
Rootstime BE Belgium 2006
Since his debut with his album ‘Frozen with Intent’, during 2002, Adrian Kosky has continued to create an interesting collection of work. After this debut, plus the ‘Dirty White Music’ album of last year, ‘The High Side of The Low End’ is his third album in just four years time.
This Australian Multi-instrumentalist plays (on this new album for Sound Vault Records) eleven new numbers in the, for him, trusted combination of folk, country and blues. On this album Adrian has again relied on his trusted producer Richard Pleasance who makes musical contributions with guitar, drums, percussion, bas and marimba. Pleasance is a musician who is able to play laid-back music while at the same time making it exciting and intense. As I wrote in the review for ‘Dirty White Music’, Adrian can best be compared with people such as: the warmth of David Munyon, the bluesy sounds of Chris Smithers and the relaxed attitude of Geoff Muldaur. He also has a supple, slightly hoarse but warm baritone, and succeeds to create intense country-blues music, with a few necessary rough edges still remaining.
His medium tempo songs and ballads are accompanied by modest instrumentals which are based on all sorts of mountain dulcimers, supported by Richard Pleasance. Adrian lays down the accents with dobro, harp and guitar playing. They underline his sung-talked texts where, in some of his numbers he follows in the tradition of Townes van Zandt and Guy Clark.
It seems more and more that Adrian Kosky will arrive, within a very short time, in the top ranks of the singer songwriters guild. Kosky doesn’t only have a restful, relaxed bronzed voice, but is also a distinguished poet who, with his subtle words, creates in his songs a continuous ambience of melancholy and longing. In this he is a witness not a participant. Occasionally some of his instrumental tracks, which feature his dulcimer and/or his electric dobro, are somewhat more fierce and vivid, which underline his considered texts and provides just the right relief which is missing in some of his other songs.
His storytelling side seems to come easy, but in that lies the artistry. Highlites on this album follow one another with breathtaking pace. Songs which are all recorded in Adrian’s home town of Daylesford. ‘The High Side of the Low End’ is an album which is easy on the ear and with which Adrian Kosky at last earns a well deserved breakthrough. Simply Beautiful.