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coverpic flag Australia - Full Moon 93 - 05/04/04

Jason Walker and the Last Drinks
Ashes & Wine
Laughing Outlaw

There are times when thoughts are best left unspoken, though an overbearing need to 'share it' can mean direct and from the heart is the only way imaginable. No doubt Jason Walker has chosen the latter here and come up with something very special in Ashes & Wine.

Walker has come out of the shadows of his covers-laden debut Stranger to Someone with a follow-up of brilliantly written and executed originals. Opener "You're on Your Own" commences with a simple beat and crisp acoustic pluck backing the honesty and hurt at the core of the song. Sadness n' aching housed in a beautifully compact piece of country pop.

There's a breadth of styles attacked on Ashes & Wine and at no stage are the Last Drinks band out of their depth. From the golden era Stones of "Dissatisfaction" to the quaint balladry of "Helpless Guy" and hard-won bar tales of "Last Drinks" there's no doubting the strength of songwriting on display.

As producer/engineer/instrumentalist Michael Carpenter does throughout the album, he coaxes an exceptional performance out of Walker for "Not Only Love". Beautifully backed the by Last Drinks on this centerpiece, Walker opines "When you think about love too much / It becomes just another crutch". Ahhh....love's contradictions.

"Please Save Your Tears" is so gloriously towering in a Crazy Horse kinda way you're waiting for the wonky raspy vocal intro of "look out mama there's a white boat comin' up the river" - raw, fucked up and marvelous.

Album closer "Looking Out" sounds like a whimsical Wilco, where Walker proves skilled in adapting his style of vocal delivery to the wide range of genres on offer across Ashes & Wine. On the vintage Stones n' handclaps of "Letdown" you're left wondering whether Mick has dropped into the studio and stepped up to the mic to help out!

Despite the cavalcade of new sounds coming atta me through the speakers, this album stubbornly retains its place near the top of the pile - the sign of a fine album. Surely US, UK, Mojo and Uncut fame beckon? Ryan Adams and Jesse Malin: sit down, grab a cold one, listen closely and take notes cos' Mr Walker is most definitely worth wages.

Copyright © 2004 Brian Stradbrook e-mail address

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