Well crafted country-soul songs with a hint of other paths
Araluen’s “And There It Is” is the vehicle for Paul Lush’s collection of songs. Lush contributes guitar to Danny and the Champions and has recruited Steve Brookes on drums and Henry Senior on pedal steel in the backing band. Angela Gannon of The Magic Numbers provides vocals. The songs are tagged as “country-soul” and the album opens with `Into the Arms of Another’. The opening sound is filled out with floating pedal steel and organ. It’s a well-crafted song about a love affair with fetching vocals, verse, chorus and thought out instrumental and backing. By the end, it’s clear that the Araluen vehicle is most comfortable in the middle of the road. That’s not necessarily a bad place to be, but this reviewer’s tastes veer more to sounds that skirt the grass verge.
However, let us turn to the things that stand out in these pieces. Lush is clearly a soulful, highly adept player but doesn’t feel the need to let that dominate the material. His playing is used sparingly and appropriately. `The Girl Will Do’ has a neat guitar riff and `Things I Wanna Say to You’ finishes with a controlled, expressive solo. `Killing Time’ is a clever lyric based on those excruciating periods of delay and anticipation that feature in any love affair. ‘Jessie Avenue’ is the last song on the album and has a hint of a glam rock stomp. The most successful song is `What Made You Change for Me?’. This is a short song with restrained emotive vocals from Gannon. Its brevity adds to the sense of regret and subdued anger as the song’s protagonist meets the returning lover. You can almost hear the door quietly closing on him as the song ends.
The difficulty as a listener is the standardisation of songs. Overall, they run at the same timing with little change in the backing or format or subject. By the sixth song, you’re waiting for a change in the palette. And then `Oh Yeah!’ arrives. Suddenly, everything accelerates into a joyful bouncing groove reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s up-tempo numbers. It’s a showcase for the band and Lush’s fine playing but it’s also the point at which the listener smiles involuntarily, and the head and torso start to move. It’s a marvellous 3 minutes. The songs are crafted but this sounds like an explosion of expression. It’s a tantalising glimpse of what the band could do with that energy in combination with Gannon’s singing.
There are six songs that follow `Oh, Yeah!’ and there are fine moments within them, particularly the guitar on ‘It Was Real to Me’. However, it’s `Oh Yeah’ that makes you feel like the vehicle is accelerating and could go to different places with exciting views.