AU ABROAD

Jason Walker - Ceiling Sun Letters (2010 LP)

album_review_jasonwalker

“I briefly went mad, was hospitalised with septicaemia (blood poisoning) because of – shall we say – unsafe practices, I nearly drowned in the Newcastle flood, battled drug and alcohol problems… the usual nonsense.”  Clearly, Jason Walker had a run of bad luck for a while. But perhaps it was a blessing in a curse as his problems spawned Ceiling Sun Letters, his third long-player to date. A mature album, recorded with long-time collaborator Brian Crouch and producer Michael Carpenter, Ceiling Sun Letters digs through the vaults of country rock and alt-country to come up with something that could be one of the best Australian records of the year so far.

Songs like "So Far" and "Advice for Beginners" are reminiscent of Ryan Adams in his Gold era, a band like The Hold Steady would pay good money for a track like "Shiver", and there are plenty of Wilco references to find on the album. This is not an album that’s trying to imitate anyone though, it’s much too accomplished for that. Walker’s lyrics are those of a skilled writer (he’s also a published author of biographies for Gram Parsons and Billy Thorpe) and the music ranges from raw to carefully crafted. While he doesn’t shun his softer side on tracks like ballad "Time Poor", this is mainly a county rock album. "You Will Be Ashes" and "The Devil That You Know Can Still Surprise You" are good examples of that, straightforward as they are in their approach, making you want to enjoy them accompanied by a beer or a bourbon and coke in a dinghy backstreet bar.

Although he may not have received the same kind of recognition yet, with Ceiling Sun Letters Jason Walker proves he is up there with the current crop of top alt country artists.

Review Score: 8/10