|Posted by The Wolf Radio: Planet Country Radio Show on February 28, 2015 at 10:20 PM|
TORI DARKE ALBUM LAUNCH – SILVER LINING - ROOTY HILL RSL. FRIDAY 27TH FEB 2015
Review by Big Stu.
‘Silver Lining’, the new album from Tori Darke, is one of those albums that seem to have been coming for a long time. I don’t just mean since her previous release, ‘Dreams and Chances’ back in 2011, but the lead up to Tori’s second full album has been a visible one. Often artists simply disappear off the radar while they write, record and produce an album – and then, ‘hey presto’, a brand new album arrives in the inboxes of radio people and the public get to hear it. In this case however, Tori made the making of her album a public concern, with an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the production, and the use of social media to keep fans in the loop as work progressed.
It is a refreshing approach, and although it must have been a stressful period for the artist, in a way knowing how hard she has had to work to make the album happen at all has placed it amongst the most anticipated releases of 2015.
Having seen Tori Darke play live several times during the ‘Dreams and Chances’ era, I was particularly interested in hearing how her new music stacked up to what was a wonderful selection of country/pop cross over tunes that did very well commercially and helped establish her credentials as one of Australia’s finest new breed of contemporary country artists.
The show began with a full house, with even media passes hard to come by, the stage decorated with an arc of balloons – including some silver ones to tie in with the album’s name. Before Tori took to the stage, local up-and-coming singer/songwriter Rachael Fahim entertained with a short, powerful set of songs accompanied by just an acoustic guitarist. We had Rachael in the studio for the [Planet Country] Radio Show prior to her competing as a finalist at the Toyota Star Maker event in Tamworth this year, and her performance on Friday night highlighted just why she came so close to winning Star Maker. The good news is that a single isn’t far away for Rachael and we stand by what we said on the show – ‘Her star is on the rise’.
Next up was the star of the night, and Tori Darke got straight into it, playing all the songs on her new album and providing some background to those she wrote or how she just had to have some of the tracks written by others. It’s hard to pick favourites when you hear an album for the first time. It usually takes several listens to pick out those songs that best relate to a listener’s own perspective or simply have a sound that excites your senses, so I’ll offer critique based simply upon a first listen during a live performance and a quick refresher in the car on the way home - sometimes you can’t get enough!
The set opened with the title track ‘Silver Lining’ and the delightful surprise of Tori playing an electric mandolin. From the start it was clear how well this band gelled together. Interestingly, Tori advised that the group hadn’t been able to rehearse together save for a quick run through that day, but when you have musos the calibre of Simon Johnson (who interestingly produced Tori’s first work – he must be proud of how far she has come) on bass and Brad Bergen creating the rhythm on guitar you’re in pretty good hands!
The next few tracks revealed Tori Darke to be a more mature performer these days, and it was clear that this new album was a progression rather than simply a continuation of where she was at four years ago.
An undoubted highlight was hearing the first single performed live. ‘Disposable’ has been on high rotation in country radio and has been played multiple times on Planet Country, so there was a familiarity to it on Friday night. However, Tori and band did it justice live.
The song ‘So Gone’ was announced as the next single and it proved a popular choice, with Tori asking the crowd what they thought after its performance. A resounding vote of confidence was the result and it’s easy to understand why. It’s a pure melodic country pop song which shows off Tori’s versatility as a singer. A quick listen to the CD version in the car on the way home confirmed the radio friendly nature of this song, and I predict it will be huge for Tori. It will certainly feature on Planet Country.
Another highlight was the duet, ‘We Don’t Know’ which Tori identified as her first duet in her career. The album version is sung with Mitch Thompson but on the night (and in the coming tour to support the album), the male part was sung by north coast-based independent artist, Michael Bryers. No disrespect to Mitch Thompson’s effort on the recording, but this track was the standout live performance of the album launch. I confess to not knowing much about Bryers but wow, what a voice. This song will be a single at some point and again shows another side of Tori Darke’s talent.
The songs ‘Small World’ and ‘Past A Broken Heart’ slowed the pace down before the melodic pop returned with ‘Outta My Head’, an easy listen.
Tori introduced the track ‘Better Off’ as one she had written years ago and had considered for ‘Dreams and Chances’ before placing it on the shelf. It always amazes me how song writers can write so many songs that don’t ever get recorded – I guess it’s like how I store off cuts of timber in the shed with the notion that I’ll find a use for them someday, and eventually I do. They become the perfect pieces for another project entirely.
The album closer is the anthem ‘You And Me Against The World’, which simply left the crowd wanting more. Luckily there was more to come. But first an opportunity to meet Tori, get a photo, including the mandatory Instagram snap holding the oversized frame.
Before long the stage was again in use, with Michael Bryers given an opportunity to play his own brand of country cross-over, and while support for his performance was strong, I confess to being distracted by the opportunity to chat with Tori and Rachael. I did, however, hear enough to know that Michael Bryers will find a home for his music on Planet Country, so watch this space – or perhaps ‘listen to it’ would be a better description.
Tori Darke managed to drag herself away from the crowd to take the stage again for a final performance of the 5 big hits from ‘Dreams and Chances’. This was now my opportunity to compare old and new and a couple of things came to mind. Tori Darke has grown as a performer, because she nailed the old songs with complete authority. The professional band of musos can play anything and the songs themselves haven’t aged. I mentioned a progression in her music and while that is true, there is no need to downplay her earlier work. It was very, very good.
Manager, Cameron Syrett took to the stage to remind the crowd and Tori that there was one song she was yet to perform and Tori decided to make this final performance an all-in effort as she took to the dance floor and before long it was packed with everyone helping her sing the catchy ‘You Better Run’.
It was a triumphant finale to an excellent show and the fact no-one was in a hurry to leave proved just how popular Tori Darke is, and how this album may be about to launch her beyond anything she has previously achieved.
Five stars out of five.