|Dimensions||12.5 × .10 × 12.5 cm|
This moving and engaging new CD, ‘the keeper’, from Gary Banks is a collection of his original and most requested songs over the past few years. ‘the keeper’ brings together a love of the Celtic Irish acoustic music tradition with a real Australian flavour. The lyrics and mature composition in the CD reflect Gary’s deep commitment to both. His close connections with Ireland have developed over 20 years of visiting the country to perform, share and learn. ‘the keeper’ arose from a most recent trip to Ireland and the opportunity to spend time on the Errislannan Peninsula on the far west coast near Clifden. The new CD reflects a love of the ocean and a love of Ireland – its stories of people and places.
Produced by maestro guitarist Rudi Katterl at his Mountain Music Studio in the Victorian Alps the CD also features not only Rudi’s own exceptional musicianship but also some of the finest session players in the north east.
Songs from the Coveted Album
Errislannan is a song written about, and from a peninsula in Connemara where immigration and belonging inhabit the very air of the place; the very stones. In Lighthouse Boy the story is of a son (Gary’s own father as a boy) who was raised on lighthouses as his father was a keeper. It celebrates the way the experiences of parents resonate within the lives of those who follow. Break my Heart, Mary, Chance in Time, and Round and Round continue the tradition of all singer songwriters, the telling of real stories of loss and longing, of people and place, of lost opportunity and that endless ribbon that unites all of us – the soul. Great Ocean Road is a tribute to where Gary now lives in Torquay Victoria and highlights Gary and Rudi’s skills as guitarists steeped in the acoustic folk tradition, the seamless unity of word, melody and music. The Lakes of Pontchartrain is a wonderful version of a traditional favourite. ”Things that Divide Men” is a modern interpretation of the futility of war. Initially written about the ‘troubles’ in Ireland the song applies just as readily to any conflict that has been, is presently or will be in the future. “No Surprise” written for the friend who must decide how and when to leave her partner. Gary has delivered a CD that can only be written by someone who has lived, who has experienced life, who has listened to the stories that surround us. Gary’s other life as a child and family therapist informs the stories within his songs.
Previous CD – the keeper
‘Rising Water’ is the second solo CD that Gary has recorded with producer and guitarist Rudi Katterl at Rudi’s Mountain Music Studio in the Victorian Alps.
Gary writes in the acknowledgements on the CD….
” These songs are stories of change, love, loss and (of course) the ocean. A call to rise up in protest (‘Rising Water’) in honour of the late Pete Seeger. Songs about my beloved Ireland where my spirit flies (‘Travel West’, ‘Spancil Hill’ and ‘So Far Away From Home’) but where the brutal deaths of young boys in an industrial school (‘The Boys of Letterfrack’) remains inconceivable to me.”
‘Rising Water’ contains 11 new songs that Gary has written since performing with Rudi at various festivals since 2010. The songs were written with Rudi very much in mind, and combine not only Gary as the acoustic singer sonwriter but also Rudi as the driving blues and roots electric guitarist.
Once again Gary and Rudi have re-united with some of the finest session musicians. Jo Ellis – violin and vocals, Tim Philips
– drums/percussion and Chris Mangan – bass.
Rudi says…..”after hearing Gary perform solo I knew I had to record and produce his next CD. His words, music and voice needed to be front and centre so that the CD reflected the power of his live performances. I think this CD honours the simplicity and power of Gary as a singer songwriter”
This CD marks a real progression in the collaboration between Gary and Rudi and reveals why they are such popular live performers with audiences. Gary as the soulful singer songwriter and Rudi as the maestro gutarist who is just ascomfortable playing a driving electric lead solo (‘Adjusting To The Light’, Travel West’) as he is playing some very sensitive acoustic touches and embellishments (‘Go’, ‘The Long Hunger’, ‘Touch’ and ‘Spancil Hill’).
The title song ‘Rising Water’ is written in the finest protest songs traditions and we used by the Victorian Greens Party at their campaign launches at the most recent Victorian state election.
The only traditional Irish song on the CD is ‘Spancil Hill’ and it is given a very modern treatment of drums, violin, bass and guitars. This is a superbly produced CD with new sounds being discovered all the time on multiple plays.
Review by Sue Robinson
This CD is professionally produced, beautifully played and relevant. The lyrics are pertinent and thoughtful, the choruses just perfect for a singalong. As Gary Banks says in the introduction, “these songs are stories of change, love, loss and (of course) the ocean.” Lyrics are included and all but one song, Spaneil Hill, are his own compositions.
The opening track, Rising Water, for example, sets the mood – a call to action, with a rousing chorus. It is followed immediately by The Sun is on the Rise, a dark moody melody, mixed with words of hope. Themes in the songs are clear, but not overstated. Face reality, Banks seems to be saying, your eyes will adjust to a new light. Don’t dwell on loss, let it go, but stand up for what is right. As he says, in Don’t Leave it Undone: “always follow your heart”.
The CD, named after its first track, is very much a group project. It was produced by Rudi Kettering, who also plays guitar, and engineered by Tim Phillips, who also plays drums and percussion. Chris Mangan adds bass and Jo Ellis plays violin beautifully and sings harmonies. On the whole, this is a first-rate collection of songs and I would recommend it.
However, I feel I must take Gary Bank’s own lyrical advice, and speak out about one aspect of the CD that bothered and distracted me from its otherwise high quality. “Gently have your say,” he sings in Don’t Leave it Undone. So I hope my single criticism of this CD is both gentle and fair.
Gary has a good ear for a million-dollar riff, and he uses guitar riffs prominently in his music. I like the riffs, I like them a lot. But when I heard this CD I was overcome with a strong impression that I had liked them before, when they were gracing other songs. So many of them felt so familiar that I found myself distracted by games of ‘guess the reference’, rather than fully enjoying Banks’s undeniably good melodies and lyrics
The déjà vu started with track 2, The Sun is on the Rise. I eventually identified it as a reference to The Steve Miller Band’s Abracadabra, and the riff sounds very good slowed down. Adjusting to the Light has licks that sound to me uncannily like Take a Long Line, by The Angels, the Long Hunger’s riff sounds very like the opening riff from the Beatles’ And I Love Her, and the riff in Travel West references John Cougar Mellencamp’s Jack and Diane. The Boys from Letterfrack, starts out sounding to me like Bob Dylan’s I want you, or maybe John Paul Young’s Standing in the Rain (which, in turn, seems to use Dylan’s riff in its melody).
Such familiar guitar work on so many early songs in the CD, kept me guessing about later tracks, where the riffs sounded familiar too. That doesn’t, of course, mean that they weren’t original. A really good snatch of melody can sound familiar even when it is a brand new creation. Paul McCartney, for example, famously said of “Yesterday” that he woke up one day with the melody playing in his head. He assumed it was a song he had heard somewhere before and didn’t work on the lyrics until he had played it to his fellow Beatles, who assured him that it was new to them.
And accidentally borrowing because you don’t remember hearing that original song is a trap anyone can fall into. I enjoy Bob Dylan’s Beyond this Horizon, even though I know the melody is pure Red Sails in the Sunset. I sing along with Elton John’s Crocodile Rock, even though Elton sings note for note, the maiden’s lament from Pat Boone’s Speedy Gonzalez, and we all know about George Harrison’s He’s so Fine/My Sweet Lord debacle.
Folk music itself is rife with borrowing, and many hit folk tunes, including most of our traditional Australian songs, use melodies from older traditional songs, adapting the lyrics for local conditions. It can happen to anyone, but for me, it happened a bit too often on this CD. Buy it anyway. I found over repeated listening, once I had identified the reference, I was able to enjoy the songs for what they are – thoughtful and well crafted music.
5 in stock (can be backordered)