Known internationally as “Australia’s virtuoso of acoustic blues and roots guitar music” and with over 25 years touring the world playing festivals and concerts and nearly a dozen critically acclaimed albums, Nick Charles’ music is a must for lovers of great blues and roots guitar music.
CD Review by Tony Smith
If you review music for long enough, a few constant themes emerge.
One of the most obvious is that Australia has musicians who compare favourably with performers from anywhere around the world.
Nick Charles fits easily into this category as his finger style guitar is absolutely first class.
Guitar Music is a mundane name for this pretty special CD of thirteen diverse tracks.
Charles is joined here by Liz Frencham, who plays bass and sings on ‘Wine’, a song she composed.
“Block the chimney, bolt the door”; “Pull the phone from its socket”; “Grab that bottle off the shelf”; “Make way for the ruby red rocket”; “Wine, wine, wine, nothing sweeter than wine”; “Wine, wine, wine, slay me blind”.
Charles’ other guest is Pete Fidler, playing mandolin on ‘Mexican Waters’ and dobro on ‘Girl from Tingha’.
The latter track was co-written by Charles and his sister, Paulette Gittins.
The song describes how their mother overcame sadness to enjoy happier times.
Like all great ballads, it has lyrics that are simple and unpretentious, but together they build an unforgettable picture.
“The dusty haze on a summer day”; “And the stars of a Tingha night”.
The contrast between the country lanes, where cattle graze, and the hard streets of Sydney, leaves the listener yearning for those quieter places.
More singer-songwriters should honour their Mums in this way.
John Dengate’s ‘Bare Legged Kate’ has become a folk standard and ‘Girl from Tingha’ has similar potential.
It is free of sentimentality but full of love and respect.
Other songs on the CD include ‘Monday Morning Blues’ by Mississippi John Hurt.
Charles has a natural talent for interpreting blues classics, with a fresh approach stimulated by his unique renditions of the guitar work, which complements the lyrics.
There is also ‘Anji’ by Davey Graham, ‘Last Steam Engine Train’ by John Fahey and Sam McCool and ‘Sleepwalk’ by Santo and Johnny Farina.
‘Sleepwalk’ has a relaxed feel reminiscent of the work of the great jazz guitarists of the 1950s and 1960s.