Album Review – The Wildes – Ballad of a Young Married Man (Release Date 3/09)

Ever since seeing the darkly striking Australian western The Proposition I’ve been fascinated with the similarities between the Land Down Under and the American South and West of the nineteenth century, both good (confronting a wild frontier to achieve independence and establish a society) and bad  (attacking and displacing an indigenous people.) Now due to The Wildes, an Americana/alt.country band from Victoria, Australia, I am now just as fascinated with roots music as interpreted in the land of Oz.

Some of the cuts on Ballad of a Young Married Man take an old-testament page from fellow countryman Nick Cave (and script writer for the aforementioned movie The Proposition). The title song, “Jack the Blacksmith,” “Nothing” and the tribal drum-beat brooder “Slap-Back Mary” could have all come from Cave if was inclined to pen country-hued songs.

The chugging “Streets of My Hometown” carries the DNA of Steve Earle’s Hometown Blues and the sweetly melancholic Sue-Ellen” sounds like a lost Waterboys cut. “If I’ve Done You Wrong” is a organ backed barroom weeper that basks in its unrepentant spirit and the wonderfully reflective “Loverman” is a rustic beauty. The bonus track Broken Blossoms is a piano and banjo bawler that I imagine could have been penned by that trash can troubadour Tom Waits. The Wildes cover a wide expanse of Americana dirt roads and wear their influences proudly on their sleeves, but their interpretation on these styles are uniquely their own.

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