Tiny Violins review – by Craig Lawler
Mick Daley’s new album “Tiny Violins” is an astonishing piece of work: dark, wordy, beautiful and bleak.
Recorded with Producer/Musician Matt Walker and Engineer Rowan Matthews at Stovepipe Records in Melbourne it is a testament to the maturity of their collective talents. After 25 years of recording, Matt Walker is at the top of his game, his latest band Lost Ragas are a triumph and he paints here with a similar sonic palette.
The muscular clamour of Daley’s usual outfit, The Re-Mains, is replaced by fresh air and a caustic lyrical stride through the Australian dystopia of 2015.
There are times in a troubadour life where the road, the sky, and your poison thoughts are your only companion. Lonesome Side of Down is an ode to that. Matt Walker’s slide is the pressure drop and Suzannah Espie’s backing vocals the breeze across the flatlands signalling the front about to move through. Hear the distant crack of his heart lit by a diffuse green light.
Othello’s P76 is a mandolin and pump organ re-working of the Re-Mains best recording. Written with the Rodent in mind, this darkly comic broadside remains relevant, as fuck all has changed since Howard’s demise. “Nobody is innocent” is as true now as it was then, as are the words of the Moor: “The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief”
Tiny Violins, the FIFO lament is the title track and centrepiece of this set. Who weeps for the poor downtrodden vanity-ute-driving, high-vis-wearing rubes of Australia? Not Daley. He pulls out the lyrical epee and switches rough-house hosannas on their arse as out the door they go. They’re selling hippy wigs in Woolworths, man.
Praise be to the Rooster. This jaunty dirge recounts a slice of rural noir. An escape across the Bland, from one shithole to the next, pursued by reverb-drenched guitar on the edge of feedback, and the cops.
In Sweet Delirium is he just in love or is he Talking Carlos Castaneda Blues? This is a man I once saw spot a gold-top mushroom from the window of a speeding shitbox, pull up with the assistance of the handbrake, hop a barbed wire fence into a north-coast cow paddock, like some rastafarian roo, and return grinning within seconds, proffering a gobfull of goldtop enlightenment. I’d plump for the latter.
Miranda Devine’s Adventures on the Vanilla Frontier: I once jokingly described Daley as the Albury Dylan but this goes beyond any joking – it is an instant classic of the sub-Bob oeuvre. A fevered night-trip through the Abbott incursion. It uncannily apes an out-take from “Highway 61 Revisited” with Walker throwing his best Mike Bloomberg guitar shapes. This thrusting, head-loppingly-current dream diatribe could inspire Pete Seeger to once again pick up his axe and start cutting cables. A cracker.
Where do we go from here? Run Run Run. Leg it, it’s your only hope: “You better bet that bunyip aristocracy will hunt you down. Sometimes you better Run Run Run”. A fittingly Old Testament finish to proceedings.