1. Death & Taxes
2. Turn Back Jimmy Creek
3. Better or Worse
4. Drink You Goodnight
5. Wayward Son
6. Old Memories
7. Hometown Stranger
8. Raise Up Our Guns
Not sure if Australia has always been putting out so much cool music or if I have just been exposed to more this year, but Gareth Leach from Melbourne continues a nice trend. I heard Leach not long after hearing James Van Cooper and really like the gritty Bluesy approach he takes. Don’t ask me to pigeonhole this into one genre as Leach really does not want to step inside a box. While there is an obvious foundation in the Blues, he also incorporates healthy doses of Rock and Country within the acoustic instrumentation. This appears to be his second mini album, and he hopefully has plenty more to come based on these 8 songs.
Getting us started with some mostly acoustic rocking blues, the title track introduces us to Leach’s drawl and some colorful lyrics that really set the scene for what is happening. The combination of hand claps and drums does an awesome job of establishing the beat. ‘Turn Back Jimmy Creek’ quickly became one of my favorites from this album and makes me think of the likes of Steve Earle, Shovels and Rope, and Kasey Chambers. I love the acoustic solo section that eventually gives way to the final chorus.
‘Better or Worse’ reminds me musically of something Hank III delivers as it has a touch of ‘Country Heroes’ to it. Leach has an outstanding impassioned vocal, and the song packs a killer hook. Slowing things way down, ‘Drink You Goodnight’ sounds like the pivotal song to an Alt-Country romantic comedy that is just waiting to be made where our two main characters have experienced their break-up before they get back together at the end.
‘Wayward Son’ turns on the Blues but makes me think of small American old west towns where the tumbleweeds are the only thing rolling down the street. I enjoy the song, but Leach doesn’t connect with me here as much as he does at other points on the album. ‘Old Memories’ pulls me back in with its sleepy Rock vibe. Leach at times really reminds me of Timothy Paruszkiewicz who fronted an old band in the 90’s called Flies on Fire. I would recommend fans of that band to check out this record and fans of Leach to revisit Flies on Fire songs like ‘Baptize Me Over Elvis Presley’s Grave.’ This is one of my favorites from the album.
Leach keeps the Rock edge on ‘Hometown Stranger’ and its exploration of memories and nostalgia. Lyrically I have really gravitated to this song which has pulled me closer to the song musically. Rounding out this album is ‘Raise Up Our Guns.’ This song sounds like the toned down acoustic version of a bombastic hard rocker which is really rather endearing. The chorus is addictive and leaves a bite. Leach again showcases an ability to pen awesome lyrics.
Leach crafts an excellent mini album that I have really enjoyed playing and will continue doing so for a long time to come. Part of the appeal is the excellent lyrics, and he combines them with musically inviting songs that showcase the tone of the lyrics. If you like any of the artists I have mentioned, I highly recommend putting this on with your beverage of choice and taking a trip down this path that Leach has carved.
‘Death & Taxes’ is available now.
Website - http://www.garethleach.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/garethleachmusic/
Review - Gerald Stansbury