Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bits and pieces: Dan Sultan, Tift Merritt, Nina Gordon

I’ve been slow to pick up on the many talents of Melburnian Dan Sultan ( but ever since I first heard the first song – ‘Your Love is Like a Song’ - of his first album (Homemade Biscuits) I’ve been hooked. This is one of the best songs of all time, from Sultan’s gorgeous, rough-edged, expressive vocals to the musical arrangement backing him up. The act that is ‘Dan Sultan’ appears to be a combined effort of Sultan himself and collaborator Scott Wilson; the band behind them contains horns and seems capable of playing country, rock and soul – thankfully, not all in the same song. Homemade Biscuits isn’t perfect but I’d dare suggest it’s iconic, for it marks the start of what is surely a long, illustrious career from a very talented singer-songwriter.

American Tift Merritt ( has followed up her 2004 country album, Tambourine, with the more eclectic – and, for this listener, more beautiful – Another Country. Written largely on a piano while Merritt lived in Paris, this album is quite a different journey to Tambourine but it’s worth taking it. Expect to have the CD on high rotation after about five listens.

Nina Gordon ( isn’t strictly country but she had two kind-of-country tracks on her 2000 release, Tonight and the Rest of Your Life. So I’m using that long bow to mention her latest effort, Bleeding Heart Graffiti. Okay, it’s pop. It’s pop rock, even. There’s no country music on it. But she does pop rock so well – and producer Bob Rock does such a good job bringing her pop rock to its fullest potential – that I can’t resist anything she does, and after the long wait between albums I was delighted to find that this one was even better than the last, and I’ve barely been able to stop listening to it. If you love great melodies, unthreatening but comforting lyrics and a completely satisfying, air-punching kind of CD, get it now.