Words: Matt Innes
John Rowe is rarely considered highly enough in the pantheon of great Australian singer-songwriters, which is a shame.
With his new album ‘Gifting The Proletariat’, John has crafted one of the finest collection of songs from beginning to end that you will hear in 2020. ‘Gifting The Proletariat’ is a sprawling, ten-track record that showcases John’s ever-increasing ability for penning songs that catch the listener off-guard and nestle comfortably in their hearts.
Gentle, flowing chords guide the way into opener ‘Another Nautical Mile’, the dreamy resonance eliciting the swell and fall of sailing upon a great ocean. We’re pushed effortlessly along the surface of the verses before plunging deep under the rolling waves of the chorus.
The album proceeds through shades of rock, folk and country stylings that incorporate John’s older work with contemporary leanings, easily transitioning between free-flowing missives such as ‘Faith, Hope And Charity’ and swinging ballads like ‘Dog In A Manger’ and ‘Naked Elm’. The album closes on the redemptive ‘Give Thanks’, a fittingly haunting end to such an honest and heartfelt record.
Read our interview with John Rowe here.
The lyrics are poetry, peppered with John’s wry wit and shaped deftly into richly detailed visions that play like vignettes in your mind. ‘Gifting The Proletariat’ an album perfect for long drives as it is for catching up with friends or just a quiet night alone at home, preferably with headphones.
Though certainly not maudlin or despondent, it may set your mind adrift back to lost loves, old friends and forgotten memories – that’s just the power of John Rowe’s songwriting.
If not one of the year’s best album, ‘Gifting The Proletariat’ is certainly John’s best so far; where his previous work established his presence as an adept singer-songwriter, this album cements John as one of Australia’s master songwriters, albeit one whose talents are unjustly under-appreciated.