Such evocative titles and lyrics and some good music to match. Start with “Mr. Edwin Butson Has The Reins,” a song based on an 1890s mail-run between two towns in Australia from which the song’s author and singer Pete Denahy hails. It’s hard not to be drawn by such a title and hard not to like the rollicking tune and vivid lyrics. Move then to the rabbit-infestation problems of “The Bottle’s Gonna Get You In The End” and on to the old-time sounds of “Singin’ Shoes.” In fact, follow this right on down the line from the moody, pensive lyrics and presentation of “Oh, My Lord” to the hard-luck lyrics and swing country of “Smoke Gets In His Eyes” to “Cluck Old Henry,” a recast traditional fiddle tune with new lyrics. All of those hit their mark—played well, sung well and arranged well.
After that, the offerings trail off a bit, but not by much. They’re a little more run of the mill, although the departure song “Paper Ribbon” and the fiddle tune “Cluck Old Hen” in its traditional form have their moments.
Denahy is a veteran of the Australian music scene and has several recordings behind him. He wrote or co-wrote all but the fiddle tune here and plays a clean tuneful mandolin throughout. His singing largely has a bright, happy-go-lucky quality about it, as if he’s giving you a wink and a nod through the speakers. The exceptions are the more thoughtful tunes such as “Oh, My Lord” on which he is appropriately subdued. For this recording, Denahy gathered a fine set of local musicians, including banjoist George Jackson, fiddler Kat Mear, resonator guitarist Pete Fidler, guitarist Dan Watkins, and bassist John Edgar. The results are quite freewheeling and well-paired to the music. A good album all told. (www.petedenahy.com)BW