In the liner notes for Western Sun, Ashley Naylor and Sherry Rich say they created this album as “the soundtrack to a movie never made”. What the movie would be we’ll never know, but the album would lend itself nicely to a bushranger biopic.
The Grapes sway from spoken word poetry on ‘Brother Don’t Cry For Me’ to more upbeat folk-rock numbers like the heart-wrenching ‘Mama (Why You Hurt Me)’ and epic ballad ‘Cowboys And Indians’. There’s a 60s psychedelic feel that leaks onto almost every track but suddenly screams out in ‘Ride On Lonely’.
The guitar tones on the track are pure 60s folk rock, with that crunch and reverb so synonymous with the era. Rich takes the lead vocals and sings of bringing gold, whiskey and diamonds to her lonely cowboy with a dreamlike lullaby quality to her voice that’s mesmerising and hypnotic.
This shouldn’t be misconstrued as a negative statement but the album’s interlude comes close to being the best part of the record. It’s a beautiful and simple piece with a melancholy lone whistler strumming chords on his guitar, conjuring images of a cowboy resting against a tree at dusk .
It would be interesting to hear the tune fleshed out into a full song, however its placement shows how well the duo have constructed the album.
Situated between the heavier track ‘Make It Out Alive’ and the dreamlike aforementioned ‘Ride On Lonely’, the bittersweet interlude serves as an excellent transition between the two songs that may have jarred if played one after the other.
With every listen of Western Sun, something new is discovered inside the songs themselves and how they relate to one another. Naylor and Rich have seamlessly melded together country, folk and psychedelia with this latest recording and created the most interesting folk record this reviewer has heard in a long time.