Kylie Auldist Still Life Review

Released 2012.  

BBC Review

An invocation of classic 1960s and early-70s soul sounds.

Martin Longley 2012

If this were an old vinyl LP, its second side would be the best. The opening rush of songs here finds Australian singer Kylie Auldist at her most commercially targeted, aiming first for the radio tantalisers.

And such talk of vinyl is highly appropriate, as most of Auldist’s third solo album is dedicated to the invocation of classic 1960s and early-70s soul styles, though more Holland-Dozier-Holland than hardcore Stax Records.

Once again, Auldist’s co-writer and producer is guitarist Lance Ferguson of The Bamboos. It was the singer’s collaboration with this funky outfit that first brought her to our attention. The title track has a sing-along chorus, bolstered by crashing drums, choppy guitar, chimes, horns and a full backing vocal assault.

It’s followed by the very upbeat Counting on You, with its upfront shuffle-drums. Despite the downer nature of its lyrics, Auldist delivers them with an almost unsettlingly upbeat lustiness, bordering on the chirpy. Maybe soul music is only fully in its element when its sentiments are moodily melancholic.

There’s a strong chorus hook on Changes, and Daydream is a widescreen spectacle, the band sounding particularly orchestral. Then there’s a cut to the guitar’s twang ’n’ shimmer, horns and strings gushing back in for a bombastic climax. It’s kinda Memphis (or Melbourne) meets Mesopotamia, with an Eastern hue to the melody.

The imaginary side B might begin with Nothin’ Else to Beat Me, which dives down into a deeper groove, Auldist’s vocals getting sassier. The guitar delivers a percussively picked figure that’s close to Steve Cropper in nature, jouncing over the funky backbeat, helped along by jabbing horns and organ.

Said organ dominates on About Face, Auldist’s range lowering as the feel crouches low, slow and churchy. Howlin’ for You, originally by The Black Keys, gets translated into a reggae existence, then Night of Lies provides a ballad recline, where it’s difficult to prevent the conjuring of Adele images.

The degree of immersion in this album depends heavily upon which side of the soul-funk-disco fence the listener dances, although Auldist has handily provided the stylistic light and dark, the sonic mellow and rough, to satisfy all camps, at least for some of the time.

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