Melbourne, Australia’s native Ashley Naylor shows that Old West country folk music isn’t just music for American artists like Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, and Dwight Yoakum, but, rather, it has a place in Australia’s music tapestry as well. Naylor who is best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist for the Australian rock group Even, during the mid-’90s, has gone solo with his debut album Four Track Mind, a collection of somber prairie tunes with a folk/rock groove and country twang reminiscent of John Prine, Steve Earl, and Kasey Chambers.
Songs like “I Made Up My Mind” and “Nylon Licks” plod like Gram Parsons in their rustic country/folk composures. The instrument repetition keeps the momentum sedate and on an even keel in a haze of light rustles. The roaming reels of whistles and harmonica trails on “Raking Up Leaves,” “Under Your Radar,” and “Resurrection Blues” have a Neil Young like warmth. The music is not rushed but finely combed. “Merry-Go-Round” culls tambourine shakes along the folksy surf with a Kasey Chambers dabbing.
There is a smoky screen fogging up the country folk shafts in the instrumental piece “Pyjama Stars.” The movements rove with a spectral glide in the songs “Soothe Me With Your Song” and “National Expres.” Naylor’s vocals are gentle and protract a Jedd Hughes instinct for loosely held reins on the melody “Blackie’s Bell.” The music trots at an easygoing pace with a bluesy piano hull circumvented in a country folk ring.
Ashley Naylor’s album has the fixings of Americana music, just coming from an Australian folk artist. The music is tranquil and glides with a smoky film in the instrumental approach. At times the songs drag with a prairie like calmness, but the folksy turf is skillfully scythed and pared. Music that the world previously only identified with America has taken on a worldly identity with Ashley Naylor.
John Prine – Fair & Square
Jedd Hughes – Transcontinental
Kasey Chambers – Carnival