As with many left-of-centre Australasian roots rockers (think Wagons, CW Stoneking, Graveyard Train), my introduction to Skyscraper Stan was at a festival gig. With touring band The Commission Flats, the towering baritone drew fans-in-waiting like moths to a flickering porch light.
His second studio album sees the poetic narrator visit a fractured society from the fringes. His vocals stride variously, befitting the light or shade of the contrasting ‘volumes’. From a twitchy David Byrne on the cautionary tale ‘Dole Queues and Dunhill Blues’ to a modern-day Burl Ives by journey’s end on ‘A Man Misunderstood’.
In between are rolling cowboy rhythms and soaring romantic epics. Big picture outrage drifts into plain talking self-examination. An unapologetic Stan whistles while ‘Dancing On My Own Grave’. Unrepentant Stan is ‘Talking About The Weather (While the House Burns Down)’; He’s ‘the drunk in the house of good taste/…the tourist in the sacred place’.
Alongside the singer-guitarist are Oskar Herbig (guitar), Martin Schilov (bass), Christopher Windley and Dan McKay (drums), Monique Kerr and Briega Young (vocals), Bruce Haymes (keys), Ed Bates (pedal steel) and Gareth Skinner (cello, piano). Engineer/producer Richard Stolz (Paul Kelly, HUSKY) sculpts a mighty soundscape of lonesome highways and hotel rooms.
Reviewed by Chris Lambie