Archer : Old Time Sing Song Man

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Archer : Old Time Sing Song Man


There are very few musicians who’ll submit themselves to the final judgement of stripping back their recordings to the very basic elements and lay all of their faults and flaws in the open. There’s an honesty and truth in the process that rings through on these records as the artist lays bare everything they’ve got to offer without any glamorous production. It’s the philosophy Melbourne’s Pound Records have built their company on and this latest release is the greatest example of that to date.  

Archer’s first album couldn’t have been stripped back much further; containing only his voice, guitar and stories sounding like it was pulled from a decades-old time capsule. His music rolls around folk, country and blues with a tinge of gospel and feels like the tales of a travelling vagrant hitchhiking through the American Deep South during the ‘50s. Although Archer has adopted and soaked up much of those time honoured American musical traditions, the songs still have a reek of eucalyptus trees and crackle like the smouldering ashes of a bushfire on the vinyl-only release.

The singer’s tremolo brogue carries with it the sound of an Australian cattle rustler you might find camped out next to a dam entertaining himself with his songs about death, travelling and bushrangers. Ben Hall is a simple outlaw balladtelling the tale of the ill-fated man who became the bushranger folk lore has celebrated with the singer chastising the crooks who engineered his situation. Murray River takes a leaf out of the gospel songbook with Archer singing of being taken down to river for the Murray cod to pick his bones over a quick country rhythm. Standing Still Blues is Archer’s ode to the freedom of travelling and living rough as he sings, “When I was running I never had a care/when I was standing still worries everywhere,” over his guitar fingerpicking. It’s on the darker and ominous tunes where Archer seems his most potent, with his rebellious nature shining through. Jesus Was A Man is an anti-gospel tune breaking the Messiah down to a mortal status with Archer seemingly chiding the listener with the lyric, “We praise his name and forget our own.”

Simplicity in music leaves a lot of space for the mind to wander with the artist acting as a guide or anchor for the listener to latch onto during their short period of escapism. While Archer’s music may leave some pining for music with more content and more production, the importance of this record is its testimony for the simple honest truths of life, love and death. Archer breaks through all the bullshit that surrounds those fundamentals and gives a tranquil place to simply sit and be akin to watching the swirls of the Murray by its sandy banks.


Best Track: Fire, Jesus Was A Man  

If You Like These, You’ll Love This: HARRY McCLINTOCK, VALERIE JUNE  

In A Word: Honest