|Dimensions||14 × 12.5 × 1 cm|
CD Review by Ian Dearden
John Fegan is one of the larger than life characters in Australian folk/roots music.
Currently the lead singer of Rough Red, one of Australia’s leading folk rock bands at present experiencing a full on revival (new album and a European tour coming up in June/July), John also has a parallel solo career, and “I am The Fox” is his second solo album.
Featuring ten originals (all co-writes with guitarist/producer Simon Gardner) and two superb covers (Eurythmic’s “Love Is A Stranger” and Boys Next Door’s “Shivers”), this album was recorded at guitarist extraordinaire Simon Gardner’s Tall Trees recording studio in Brisbane, and features a stellar line up of local musicians, including Glen Baker (drums), Chris Bosley (bass), Simon Gardner (guitars), Michael Hynes (keys, vocals), Samantha Fegan (vocals), Ewan MacKenzie (guitar), Bill Anderson (Ud, Turkish Ley), Briony Letterell (cello), David Lee (fiddle) and Patrick Gunderson (guitar).
John is a superb storyteller (with an endless supply of stories to tell), has a warm and engaging stage presence, and is a strong and muscular singer.
Many of his songs stem from life experiences, with stories attached, including King’s Cross, (a place John loves, but describes as “the ugliest, meanest, most dangerous place outside the Middle East”), Margie and Mardon’s House of Fun (what goes on tour ends up in a song) and Post Cards (a smorgasbord of traveller’s tales).
Then there’s the other side of the road – the uncomfortable side.
John has no compunction revealing his struggles with depression (My Dark Companion rivals Churchill’s ‘black dog” as a metaphor for the debilitating struggle some have with the dark side of their humanity).
The harrowing experience of being flooded in 2011 produced Something Wicked This Way Comes, while In My Life sees John looking back on a life well, and fully, lived!
In an album packed with great songs, standouts for me include The Ballad of David Hicks, a nuanced engagement with the real life puzzle of a young working class man from Adelaide and his infamous involvement with radical Islam, and the opening track, I Am The Fox, reflecting on the shared nickname of John, and his father before him, and the talismanic qualities of that creature.
The musicianship on the album is superb and although it seems unfair to single out any particular players, I should mention, in particular, blistering guitar solos from Patrick Gunderson on In My Life and King’s Cross, great fiddle playing from David Lee on I Am The Fox, and deliciously atmospheric cello from Briony Letterell on My Dark Companion.
At a fundamental level, though, Simon Gardner’s sympathetic arrangements and production put the voice and “presence” of John Fegan right where it belongs in each song, front and centre!
Great Australian music in the folk/roots tradition.
9 in stock