Warralakin – Rhythms of the Outback


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Warralakin – Rhythms of the Outback

CD review by Tony Smith

TN2550-91 – $20

TN161 Feb 24

Phil Gray IS Warralakin Music.

He supplies lead vocals to these tracks of 2023, well, for 17 of them.

One track, ‘Dodlakine Waltz’, is an instrumental.

It is always pleasing to hear songs about Australia’s more remote regions and in this case, Western Australia.

The tracks are ‘Central Road’, ‘Hey Blue It’s Raining’, ‘Send Her Down Huey’, ‘The Warralakin Bin’, ‘Paint Me A Wheelbarrow’ (John Williamson), ‘Song of the Black Bream Fisherman/ Three and a Half Inch Mesh’, ‘Hum of the Land’, ‘To Hell With Tide Charts’, ‘Yokinup Bay’, ‘Drunken Drillers’, ‘Wundowie Line’, ‘The Lights of Munglinup’, ‘When the Sou’Sou’Wester Blows’, ‘The Final Chapter’, ‘Brumby Run’ and ‘Seeds of the Wattle’

Phil Gray plays some nine instruments and carries the vocals.

He gets support from Josh Gray on guitars and bass, Geoff Morgan on Didge, John Matthews on Banjo, John Ralph on backing vocals, mandolin, tenor banjo and percussion, Jill Oats on flute and clarinet, Rob Oats on guitar, Yvonne Gray on ubass, Alan Rebeau on autoharp, Bob Emery on mandolin, Dave Clark on fiddle and harmonica, the Lost Quays on backing vocals and Loaded Dog on three and a half inch mesh.

The sleeve notes include full lyrics.

Curiously, there is a separate list about the inspiration, writing and provenance of the various tracks.

It would be more convenient to have the two combined.

While the bulk of the tracks have words and music by Phil Gray, he does take some lyrics supplied by friends and sets these to music.

These songs include one of the best on the CD, ‘Warralakin Bin’, with words by Alan Mann: ‘Year on year, truck by truck, the golden wheat came in/ to that monument to days gone by – the Warralakin Bin’.

Other lyrics are supplied by Fran Coyle, Kel Watkins and Will Ogilvie.

Graham Jenkins supplies music for ‘When the Brumbies Came to Water’.

The songs and verse here celebrate either the land itself or the workers who made white settlement possible.

There is often a yearning after things that have disappeared or are threatened.

The ‘Wundowie Line’ has a dreamlike quality enhanced by some fine harmony vocals: ‘The sleepers are stacked, the muscles are oiled/ we’re having a wonderful time/ one hundred and twenty clear in the hand/ we’ll work the Wundowie line’.

There are a couple of recitations likely to be much appreciated by fans of the Poets’ Breakfasts at folk festivals.

These include Ian Mudie’s ‘Hey Blue It’s Raining’, Len Ottie’s ‘To Hell with Tide Charts’ and Gray’s own ‘Final Chapter’, which pairs neatly with his song ‘Run, Brumby Run’.

‘Seeds of the Wattle’, lyrics by John Wolfe and Gray, and music by Peter Chambers, is a good finale.

This track has perhaps the best instrumental backing on the CD.

The chorus runs: ‘Seeds of the wattle lie lost in the sand/ walked over by gold hungry men/ an abundance of gold will be seen in our land/ when the wattle trees bloom once again’.

Gray sees young Australians as the wattle seeds.

This is a love song to the next generation, and that sums up the album neatly.

Additional information

Weight .110 kg
Dimensions 21 × 15 × 1.0 cm


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