Andy Collins,
Barron Delta Blue
(self-produced, 1999)

What better way to handle the post-Christmas blahs than to put on some blues! A disc by Andy Collins was first in the line-up -- and although better than many, there's nothing that really kicked me, although a few tracks stood out and said "I'm here" with this disc. I was reminded of a lounge act with the opening track, and that feeling carried on through the entire disc. This can be either a good or bad thing -- it all depends on your personal listening tastes.

According to the liner notes, these songs are "reflections of a life in Far North Queensland." Andy learned the ropes in the famed bars of the Barbary Coast -- singing for very mixed audiences, comprised of blue-collar workers for the most part. A hard-to-please class of people when it comes to the creature comforts! All but one of these tracks are original compositions, and they prove Andy is quite capable as a songwriter.

"Gulf Road" has a steady, driving beat to it, and there is a feeling of loneliness and danger caught in the music itself. The harmonica adds to the melancholy mood, as do the lyrics. "The blood red dingo knew it and the wide eyed Flinders Steer / The hunting Myall crossed it with a boomerang and spear / Still wedge tail eagles see it and the timid kangaroo / Stood by and watched in wonder as the bullock drays came through...." An era past, an area steeped in history -- it captures the imagination. This is one of two tracks on the disc which Andy didn't write; however, it is a notable piece.

The title track is a funky piece of piano blues, with Joey May burning up the keys. This track has a lot of heart to it, and a blues sound that isn't so prevalent anymore -- at least here on the West Coast of Canada. Out of all the original pieces, this one stands out the most. The melody is consistent and the lyrics are something within which the listener can lose themselves. It tickles the senses and nudges the soul.

Andy's lyrics are down to earth, matter of fact, believable, and strongly mirror reality. He's not looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, nor does he try to lead his listeners down that merry path of make-believe. "Long Lonesome Road" is a song of love remembered. "If you remember / Write to me some day / If you ever think of me babe / Write to me someday / Addressed as follows / Somewhere out on that old highway...."

The aboriginal artwork in the accompanying booklet is something else, too! All in all a fine effort by Andy, and worth the listening. Blues fanciers will appreciate it, and enjoy the addition to their collections. It speaks of a different time and place, one I won't mind visiting now and again.

[ by Naomi de Bruyn ]
Rambles: 9 February 2002