What’s on in Melbourne Victoria – James Cruickshank

image of james cruickshankJames Cruickshank, acclaimed guitarist and keyboardist for the Cruel Sea, releases his third solo album, Note To Self, through Mullumbimby’s Vitamin Records.

Flashes of Sam Cooke, David Bowie, Tom Waits and Beefheart reveal in the swinging gait and crooked instrumental passages of a moody serenade through Cruickshank’s yellowed back pages. Tinkering with strings and keys, swamp jazz and electronic propulsion, these meditations on maturing in a Peter Pan era could have been recorded in a time capsule, but the production, resolutely 21st century, lands it safely in a contemporary quarter.

Titles such as ‘Blue Falcon’, ‘Invisible Tattoo’ and ‘Teenage Voodoo Doll’ extol Cruickshank’s penchant for pop culture, dipped in muddy rust and sprinkled in lime juice and tobacco. Their narration ebbs artfully, veering between the self-effacing mutter of ‘Chrome Wings’ and a soaring cover of the Beatles ‘Within You, Without You’ that offsets the charm of Cruickshank’s deft contralto.

Working in isolation on his beloved far north coast of NSW (his albums are self-produced), Cruickshank has created an idiosyncratic career as bohemian bard-auteur, a kind of latterday hillbilly beat poet – the Serge Gainsbourg of the bush. The eight-track CD, Note To Self, seems certain to claim discerning ears this winter.

Where: The East Brunswick Club

When: 7 July 2011