Songs of separation, struggle, strength and rejuvenation recorded live at Wongawilli Hall over two nights, this CD is a showcase of Us Not Them in concert, including 11 previously unrecorded songs. A rare collection of gems, this album displays a strong Australian character exploring aspects of our history and landscape and their impact on individuals. Some of the songs are over 100 years old, others written in the past 20 years. Come to terms with our convict heritage through the awesome ballad ‘Exile of Erin’ and then look again through the contemporary eyes of David Beniuk with ‘Like Limerick’. Experience the drought and despair in the bush through ‘Dirt of the Mallee’ and find a kind of peace in ‘Sweet Necessity’ and ‘Move Along Baldy’. Join the audience in the powerful choruses of ‘Poison Train’ and ‘Sing Us a Song Boys’ from Michael O’Rourke. Add to this a few previously recorded Us not Then songs including the evocative Salvation Jane and ‘The Wanderers’ to complete a quality packed 60 minutes of music.
CD review by Graham Seal
Chloë and Jason Roweth are a multitalented couple of singers, instrumentalists, reciters and songwriters.
They have been interpreting traditional music and creating new material live, on recordings and, of late, online, for well over twenty busy years.
These outstanding performers have stayed true to their commitment since their early CD, recorded live at Wongawilli Hall, NSW, in 2001.
Then, performing as ‘Us Not Them’, this CD was titled ‘One Man’s Weeds – Another Man’s Flowers’.
It contained contemporary songs, several poems set by Chloë and Jason, a couple of their own compositions, some tunes, a few traditional tracks (‘The Drover’, ‘Maiden’s Prayer’, Exile of Erin’), Tex Morton’s ‘Move Along, Baldy’ and three Mike O’Rourke compositions – ‘Sweet Necessity’, ‘Poison Train’ and the CD’s final track, ‘Sing Us a Song, Boys’.
Jim McWhinnie helped out very effectively with bodhran on a couple of tracks.
Twenty years later, they have released another live CD, Tie Wire (and other grand plans).
Like most performing artists, Chloë and Jason have used their enforced holiday from live gigs to work on recording projects, usually at home.
With a similar balance of songs and tunes to their first CD, this one showcases the skills in early evidence, now honed to a confident and, at times, passionate delivery.
Some bushranger ballads are featured, together with some contemporary numbers with a social and political message by masters including John Dengate, Alistair Hulett and Harry Robertson.
There are a couple of sets of beautifully arranged mazurkas and reels, together with a sprinkling of great traditional ballads – ‘Dark Eyed Gypsies’ and ‘The Female Rambling Sailor’ in the version collected from Mrs Catherine Peatey of Brunswick in 1959 and living here once again.
Then, and now, Chloë and Jason interpret their material with a variety of musical styles and distinctive arrangements that enhance the music rather than getting in its way, always remaining true to the sources of the songs and their singers.
With such a range of talents, it’s no surprise that they have been a fixture at festivals, concerts and clubs around the country for many years and collected a few awards in the process.
Along the way, including playing and recording with the band ‘Collector’, they have created a body of work that respects the tradition and keeps it alive with fresh interpretations and new creations in the same spirit.