Rock has reached an interesting, albeit dark, phase. Every band now needs to drop the songs about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll and instead talk about the other side of that coin: the loneliness, the longing and the silence after the songs.
Enter Dan Sultan and his new album, Blackbird, recorded in Nashville. Striking off with Make Me Slip, the grip the electric guitar immediately catches you in is tight, powerful and enjoyable, and while the follow-on, Can’t Blame Me, also keeps up this enjoyable sound, it isn’t until the first single, Under Your Skin, and High Street Riot that it feels like Sultan has dropped the rock persona and finally begun to speak with sincerity.
The album continues to grow from here, spreading out of the straight-up rock in favour of more soulful and acoustic songs. Ain’t Thinking About You showcases the skill that went into the album; when so many others would let the horns in the track run loose like barking dogs, here they are kept under control, adding just the right touch of soul without drowning out everything else. The album’s finale, Gullible Few, has Sultan alone on the piano, bearing a depth that just didn’t seem possible at the start of the album.
Beautiful, deep, and completely Dan Sultan, Blackbird is a wonderful listen.