Murray Kyle’s Australian folk music continues to evolve with his sixth studio album Talisman. In many ways, nothing has changed, but each collection of tracks are perfectly put together and as his groove is relatively unique – Kyle continues to trailblaze a path for Aboriginal tinged folk.
“Fire Carrier” kicks things off in the acoustic folk way we are used to with Murray Kyle. Lush guitar, uplifting melodies, beautifully organic percussion and lyrics of an inner journey. You can pick any of his albums and you’ll get songs of this ilk but he makes sure his staples are crafted to excellence. “Here In the Now” is a fantastic drone chant track. Just Murray’s voice, a singular beat and the drone of the didgeridoo. It’s a focused meditative call for inner peace and to focus on the moment and the track gets the tone, mood and rhythm spot on. “Protect the Water” is a tuned percussion dream. Thumb pianos twinkle around a swaying beat and kick fired lyrics. It’s like you’re enjoying a jungle solace but the melody has hope and a tinge of eeriness to it too. The album has several female vocalists guesting and here they stand out among samples of water drips.
“River and a Rock” see’s Murray turn towards a stripped-down acoustic blues feel which works excellently as the collage of voices provides warmth to the words. The more tribal “Ancestors of the North” takes things more guttural with powerful chants, growls, vocal percussive noises and the feeling like you’re transcending time and body. I love these types of songs and Kyle layers them so well. The juxtaposition of the sweet ballad “Falling in the Autumn” that has an Appalachian feel to it, makes both tracks really stand out. The latter has a free-flowing vibe to all the instruments like the song constantly unfurls over its five minutes. It’s like honey to the ear. “Dawn Bringer” switches across to Hawaiian lyrics and instrumentation which brings a new palette to the ear and a softness to the album.
“Burning Fire Soul” is a vocal delight. From the dual vocals making the main melody, to the vocal atmospherics and beatboxing that make the track feel olde and current at the same time – it’s unique. I don’t think there are many tracks that beatbox about saving the planet – but here we have one. “The Phoenix Flies” becomes the culmination of all that comes before it. Much of the subtext to Kyle’s lyrics, aside from conscious thought and loving yourself, revolve around cultivating and celebrating Aboriginal and indigenous culture. This is the most direct call to arms for celebration and protection and has a real groove and push to it. The wind instruments here are excellent. The album closes with a change of palette and pace entirely with a piano, string and voice ballad closer with “Eternity’s Witness”. It’s hushed, soft and delicate although not reflective of the rest of the album. Its message is clear – someone needs to think of the future.
Murray Kyle’s music is excellent and represents a culture often chucked into a single category of “World Music” when there is so much more to be said and being said here. If you enjoy folk or singer/songwriter music in general, you owe it to yourself to give Murray Kyle a listen.
Recommended Track: The Phoenix Flies