(Half A Cow)
What stalks the Kid's songs? For starters, there's his upbringing in the industrial Gothic landscape of Lithgow, a shrouded town, settled in a hole where the archaic mists of Blue Mountains soak the coalmines and prisons that drive dollars just west of the ranges. The Kid ran like hell from the town, but his songs could still hail from those cheap old pub rooms and TABs, from homes breaking under the weight of accumulated tobacco soot and too many unspoken truths.
Like on 'Drugs to a Letterhead' where every household accruement makes comment in a relationship's disillusion, like flickering images from a home movie run in the wrong direction. "Lock on your wrist/Tick's telling tock to give it a rest/Bent over a dish/Tap's speaking out, "get away from this"... I know you're talking backwards with the door slam"
Beyond that, his mastery of the dropped-stitch turnaround hints at appreciation of hell-bound bluesmen like Robert Johnson. On 'Ambulance' the lines flow fluid even if the chords move in ways no band can follow: lyric and melody is leader and king in this world. "Then shadows crawl in, give this girl a mandolin/Snare rolls kick your belly in the night, and doubt kicks off the blankets again."
For all these atmospheres, there's a new sound from Cornered, who has stretched his legs beyond the indie-country sound of his debut Six Sisters. Shimmering electrified folk blends with girl-group stomp on '50 Words', a song lifted by a the warmth of a femme familial choir and sweet couplets like "Itís 50 words to one/You're touching your toes with your tongue/And your soft side cartwheels away" ; there's Crazy Horse guitar power on 'Tightrope'; a walking-wounded bassline on 'Wooden Cane'. 'Diamond Dog' is a mystery, all submerged psychedelia. Elsewhere it's plaintive, as the horns on the Waitsian 'Dry Bones' redefine doleful. 'Stocking Run' is something else again, a spacious, loop-led anthem that recalls the airy grandure of Perthís Bluetile Lounge. - Simon Wooldridge