Paul Andrews’ second album released under the moniker, Family Fold, which is out now, was recorded in Nashville under the tasteful direction of in-demand producer, Brad Jones, who has worked with a number of top flight Australian singer songwriters in the past, such as Missy Higgins, Butterfly Boucher and Bob Evans.
Ashfield Skyline, this Melbourne singer-songwriter’s follow up to 2015’s critically lauded, Lustre Glo, contains another batch of acutely observed snapshots of a distinctly Australian suburban life.
Opening with Saturday Night, No Fever, people of a certain age will be reminded of those adolescent Saturday nights that always held the promise of electrical, romantic connection and yet never seemed to yield those desperately hoped for results. The song’s structure, and Andrews’ delivery, makes it sound a little like a 1970’s Neil Diamond album track, which actually helps it create the prevailing atmosphere of affectionate nostalgia here.
The single, Molly Meldrum’s Eyes, which follows the opener, keeps our attention firmly focused on the past. It is actually a reworking of a recently rediscovered song, originally written in Andrews’ youth, and it is chock full of cultural references that will conjure up early Sunday evening memories of watching Countdown and the conflicting emotions this often evoked. Andrews was obviously enamoured with the Hammond sisters, who fronted Cheetah, and also quite taken with JPY’s jauntiness and wardrobe choices!
It’s a lovely song, but it has to be asked, seeped as it is in a wry humorous reverie of a specific time long gone – will it have appeal for anyone of the post-Countdown generation?
Every song here is well-crafted, and Andrews, occasionally aided and abetted by some sympathetic studio players, has produced an album that is reminiscent of Charles Jenkin’s very much under-rated outfit, Ice Cream Hands – which is not a bad thing. But, musically, the tunes overall are a little too pretty, too safe, at times, and lacking in sufficient stylistic variety to really make an instant impact.
Let Go is one exception. This more upbeat track sounds a lot like a 1980’s Los Lobos outtake, and its brassy exuberance is very infectious.
If people are willing to invest in listening to the album a few times all the way through, though, they will be rewarded.
Lyrically, the imagery in these songs is always clever and precisely drawn. Song titles like Crying In The Carwash, Big Wedding and Greater Union, underscore the fact that these songs, whilst digging into the intensity of life’s indelibly emotional experiences, are also set in the relatively mundane haunts that we all often frequent – ensuring that the relevance of these perceptive observations can be seen in our lives too.
Pangs of recognition are frequent throughout the record, and we’ve all felt the anxieties and disappointments touched upon in these songs, just as we have also felt the exhilaration of life’s little pleasures and victories that are also documented and celebrated here.
Overall, Ashfield Skyline is a good record, and one that deserves an audience.
And hopefully, the target audience that the lyrics seem to be speaking to the most – the reflective, the nostalgic, the life-experienced – will get to hear it.
If they do, they’ll love it.
Family Fold’s Ashfield Skyline album is out now. It can be purchased and/or downloaded from: Family Fold’s ‘Ashfield Skyline’ album