ALBUM REVIEW: THE AUDREYS – COLLECTED

The Audreys are on one helluva hat trick. Over ten years they’ve released three albums, each one winning the Best Blues & Roots Award at that year’s ARIA Awards. Perhaps because of this or because getting a muso to pick their favourite song or album is a lot like asking a parent to pick their favourite child, they have come up with an easy solution. Collected draws together all three of their albums in one handy pack.

Faced with the task of reviewing such a comprehensive set is a tad daunting to say the least. Especially when you consider that there is bonus material (enough to fill at least one other disc) that is also available to be downloaded too. The latter offering boasts music videos plus rare tracks and b-sides including live, alternate and demo versions of their much-loved songs.

Put simply, their debut, Between Last Night & Us  boasts 12 smoky pop tunes. On their follow-up, When The Flood Comes the two principal songwriters and mainstays, Taasha Coates and Tristan Goodall battled “Difficult second album syndrome” and writers’ block. Eventually they would find the perfect inspiration at New York’s infamous Chelsea Hotel and would write that album’s opening song, “Chelsea Blues” about it. This one includes lyrics that ring true for this compilation: “There’s a big change coming down the highway” and “We’re all in this together,” while the remainder of the tracks are of the softer and slower, folk variety.

Their latest album, Sometimes The Stars is the “mature” record. It still boasts the organic, homespun charms of its predecessors plus some weightless floating chords, soaring harmonies and rumbling melodies. It also features one impressive guest cast including Tim Rogers, Tripod and Michael Barker (John Butler Trio).

Tristan Goodall has described his group’s sound as “Goodtime heartbreak music with banjo”. This “ultimate collection” certainly has many moments like this because often the numbers deal with raw emotions in an honest yet refined way. Plus, you know you’re onto something good when you’re an artist that produces a better cover of another band’s song than the original member’s most recent attempts (and by that I’m talking about their version of INXS’ “Don’t Change” which completely trumps the cut on “Original Sin”).

“Collected” sees plenty of piano ballads, light folk numbers, some old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll plus more organic favourites. These also prove the perfect launch pad for Coates’ vocals. The latter are equally sweet and honeyed at some moments while at other times are quite sultry and sexy.

The Audreys have been a blessed union of mostly two souls, a boy and a girl creating the right dichotomy between light and dark shades in their writings. Whether it is softer musical moments coupled with darker lyrics, vice-versa or any other combination of great things, it is often all about a cheeky juxtaposition. It’s a stellar formula that ultimately works and has provided a meaningful soundtrack not just for films and TV scenes but also to peoples’ lives in general. This collection coincides with their upcoming Bluesfest appearance and often plays out like a love letter to fans, thanking some for their support over the years while giving new ones the opportunity to acquire their entire discography in one fell swoop (and not have to pick favourites).

Collected ultimately offers a little something for everyone and every mood because these are great songs that encompass emotions that are good, bad and in-between. These tunes are like clever laments that are often familiar, very attractive and polished to perfection. In short, it’s a mesmerising signpost to celebrate the past, present and future of a passionate and powerful band. A beguiling bookend to one chapter with a swag bag of more goodness still to come.

Originally published on 27 June 2012 at the following website: http://www.thedwarf.com.au/nd/albumreviews/collected_audreys_the

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