CD review by Tony Smith
This album of 12 mostly original tracks by Gordon Wallace and Hannah Croke is very easy on the ear.
Both musicians share the writing and also the arranging credits on the traditional numbers such as ‘Lowlands of Holland’.
Croke carries the vocals, plays cello, bodhran and bouzouki.
Wallace plays bouzouki, harmonica, stomp box, guitar and mandolin.
Peter Winkler supplies jaw harp on one track as well as recording, mixing and mastering the album at Bondi Pavilion Studios.
‘Grant Street’ is an urban blues.
Someone has partied too late and is no longer feeling upbeat.
The gutters, symbolically, have turned to mud.
‘The Duke of Palma’s Daughter’ is an excellent ballad telling a love story and pairs very nicely with the instrumental ‘Whiskey Before Bed’, which in this case shows both bouzoukis interacting in a lively duet.
The Spanish duke’s daughter eloped with a coachman and eventually they settled in Australia.
Their humility and the happiness of their children who ‘squealed and giggled as they ran on the sands’ reminds us all that a nation is more than the propaganda that the resource rich wants us to believe.
Penniless migrants can contribute so greatly.
‘Scrubbed Up Well/ Ten Quarters of the Universe’ presents a sad story of injustice about a man called Rory McTaggart who was new to a valley and made the mistake of preventing a neighbour from killing his wife.
On ‘Far Away’ the mandolin has some nice breaks, while on ‘Crooked Branch’ the cello is outstanding.
It is a feature as intro and between the verses, but also soars in an extended break after the song is over.
The lyrics here are a little mysterious, a little poetic, but they seem to carry a warning about the land, the trees and birds.
For ‘The Lowlands of Holland/ The Chase’ the combination of mandolin and bouzouki works especially well.
‘Another Woman’ is a tango and Hannah Croke’s voice is an excellent fit here.
On ‘Arsenic in Macondo’, Croke plays cello like a lead violin!
‘Salvation/ Paper Mache Mountains’ is a fitting finale.
It is a kind of rocking ocean lullaby reminiscent of the ‘Mingulay Boat Song’.
Other tracks include ‘In the Night’, ‘The Path’ and ‘Drifting’.
Myriad acknowledge the Bondi Pavilion emerging artists’ subsidy, the Australia Council, NSW Ministry of the Arts and Waverly Council.
These organisations should be satisfied that they have helped in the production of a highly professional album.
Hannah Croke and Gordon Wallace made In the Night both very listenable and a clear demonstration of their musicianship.