CD review by Tony Smith
Like all great songwriters, Pat Drummond loves playing around with words.
Puns and plays on words and meanings come easily.
In this double album Shoestring release, Drummond demonstrates his command of language and a special ability to set words to music to highlight their meaning.
Each album has 13 tracks including a live video ‘Peace On Our Roads’.
Mostly the words and music are by Pat Drummond, but Grant Luhrs, Craig Dawson and Karen Lynne co-wrote tracks and Geoff Drummond penned one.
Other tracks on Volume 1 are ‘Keepers of the Flame’, ‘Exiles on the Glory Road’, ’10,000 Miles Away – Until It’s Happening to You’, ‘Namatjira’, ‘The Cod That Ate the Moon’, ‘What Goes Around Comes Around’, ‘The Light’, ‘Marilyn Monroe Was A Size 14’and ‘Money to be Made’.
The title alone suggests that on the great issues of the age, Drummond finds it important to dissent from the orthodoxies.
These are songs of conscience about social justice denied by the rich and powerful.
Among the best is ‘Who Is That Refugee?’, which asks why we refuse to recognise the asylum seeking Jesus.
In the ‘The Quality of Light’, Drummond posits the hard, hot sunny environment as an explanation for our utilitarian attitudes.
What good are words in a land ruled by harsh utility?
‘Who Are These People (Out of Eden)’ tells of faceless investors who make fortunes out of enterprises such as canneries, and then walk away without a care for the people who lose their livelihoods.
Drummond sings unaccompanied the marvellous creed ‘Trust of Strangers (The Fear Pack/ Send It Back)’, in which he rejects the fortress mindset developing in Australia around 2001.
Tracks on Volume 2 include personal reflections, especially drawing on travel experiences.
Songs include ‘Blame It On The Babyboomers’, ‘The Trolley Song’, ‘Eighteen Wheels’, ‘A River Too Wild’, ‘The Circle of the Bells’, ‘Turning 40 into 24’, ‘Coming Home’, ‘Hard Time for Old Heroes’, ‘Don’t Worry (Neither Will I)’, and ‘Goodbye My Restless Child’.
‘The Descent of Age’ implies a coming down.
Drummond says that he has never expected to be well liked, and at some country music festivals, his ideas have been so unpopular that he experienced hostile comment and staged walkouts.
He also muses that perhaps he should stop being so critical and instead concentrate on amusing people.
While Drummond does have the knack of making people laugh, ‘The Lovin’ of the Bush’ is the kind of anthem that could well make people cry.
‘Balloons on Canowindra’, which is country but not cliché, is another that must make the listener wistful.
Pat Drummond worries that perhaps he has spent too long on the mountaintop gathering words of advice for the real world.
He thinks he might be better off giving more practical assistance – by volunteering, learning carpentry, joining an activist group, teaching school or even running for local council.
While such thoughts are inevitable for any artist, I would hate to think Drummond might abandon songwriting when he has spent so long honing his skills.
Drummond acknowledges a large cast of support musicians including Pete, Geoff and Steve Drummond, Jim Conway, Chris Soulos, Marcus Holden, K’Crasher and his sister, Karen Lynne.
Pat Drummond is a prolific songwriter and is a keeper of the flame of dissent.
When you draw inspiration from everyday life, you have a wealth of material with which to work.
At times, Drummond’s songs are whimsical, amusing, cutting or sad – sometimes all at once.
Life is like that.
It is seldom all light or all shadow.
Drummond is among our most perceptive artists in any medium.