After 25 years as the honey-voiced singer of The Blackeyed Susans, Rob Snarski has released his debut solo album, “Wounded Bird”.
Produced by Rob and longtime bandmate and collaborator Dan Luscombe with Yikesville studio boss Shane O’Mara, “Wounded Bird” foregoes the lush arrangements of The Blackeyed Susans for a stripped-back and intimate sound palette.
Think Ricky Nelson meets Mazzy Star or the Everly Brothers if they’d been raised on a diet of Big Star’s Third.
“Wounded Bird” wasn’t originally conceived as a solo album. For several years, Rob and Dan had been working on a follow up to their contemplative ‘There Is Nothing Here That Belongs To You’ album of 2004. Until one night, Dan suggested the new album should come out under Rob’s name alone.
‘Who would I blame if it all went wrong?’ Rob thought. Of course, a few things did go wrong. Whole recording sessions went missing, courtesy of corrupted hard drives and stolen computers, leaving Rob to contemplate the worth of what appeared to be a cursed recording.
Fortunately there was a coterie of musicians to assist him wrest fortune from disaster: Luscombe and O’Mara, JP Shilo and Phil Kakulas from the ‘Susans, as well as Clare Moore (vibes), Bruce Haymes (keyboards), Ashley Davies (drums) and ‘some guy called Ralph’ from Machine Translations.
The result is a beautifully sparse album, which finds joy in the spaces in between.
One of the most profound musical experiences of Rob’s youth was hearing the golden hits radio station wafting over the valley of his family’s rural property on the outskirts of Perth in Karragullen. Working on the family orchard he was captured by the crooners, Roy and Elvis, coming down from on high, their voices carried and twisted by the valley winds.
Themes of love rejected or betrayed play out across the album. The characters wounded by the madness of everyday life: There’s ‘Henry Small’ – who sets sail on a sea of alcohol through the neon streets of a careless city; and ‘Johnny Only’ a man from ‘a different generation’ coming out ‘in a not-so-different world.’
They travel through the wintry, nocturnal landscapes of ‘It Starts With Snow’ and ‘Engine Driver’ in search of forgiveness and redemption. Finding it, at least momentarily, in the summery, beachside pleasures of ‘Temperature’s Rising’, which hints both at the hope of renewal and the destructive forces inherent in the heat.
“Wounded Bird” may be as pure an expression of Rob Snarski’s oeuvre as we are yet to hear. His first solo album may have been a long time coming, but it is worth the wait.