16 years ago I returned to Sydney for a holiday, a place where I lived as a child for a short time, and was dismayed to find that all the artists I loved first time around – Paul Kelly, Midnight Oil, Painters and Dockers – were shunted back to the dark corners of the HMV on Pitt Street, but one record caught my ears on a listening post and it’s stayed wedged in my brain ever since. Bernard Fanning was the lead vocalist of Queensland alternative rock band Powderfinger but his debut solo album ‘Tea and Sympathy’ was his first foray into a more americana/folky bent. As my colleague Paul Villers attested to in his column last month, the whole album is superb but this stands out as my personal highlight and actually won an Australia recording industry award for Most Performed Blues & Roots Work. Just listen to that fiddle at 1.30 and tell me there’s a better break than that in a 3-minute pop song.
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