CD - Common Man
by Julie Minto aka Mama Juju for Folk Rag July 2010
STOCKADE is Chuck Euston on vocals, mandolin, slide guitar and guitar; his wife Chris on vocals, harmonica, accordion & mandolin, and their son Ben on percussion. They are joined by the talented Geoff Carwardine on vocals and bass guitar.
The instrumental skill of these musicians is a standout feature of the CD and the members of the band performing backing vocals in tight harmony also create a significant part of STOCKADE’s sound.
Chris’s wailing harmonica sets the mood with the up tempo opening track by asking you to Enjoy the Ride. It is a nice ride full of witty observations on life but never dwelling on the pessimistic side for too long. Although the album has an upbeat mostly positive theme, the lyrics are cleverly crafted and pack a punch.
There is quite a ‘green flavour’ to many of the tracks such as Geoff’s contemplative ‘Antarctica’ and also the witty ‘It’s all about the Money’ and ‘Clean Green Line’ which ask us to think about what we are doing to the environment. It’s all About the Money and the almost zydeco sounding Public Liability cover the subjects of man’s greed and the problems it creates.
In contrast, the aptly named Café Columbus has that cruisy sitting in a café feel complemented by the lovely smooth and mellow tones of Chuck’s vocals.
This is a quintessentially Australian folk album which includes an ode to Ned Kelly in Mother Kelly’s Son. This is one of the few songs I have heard that does not grant Ned hero status but rather touches on a fatalistic view of his life and the choices he made…as said by the line” live by the gun die by the gun”. This is certainly a different approach to Ned Kelly’s life than that taken by other song writers. The ballad Western Plains is a beautiful melodic waltz. It is wistfully sung by Chris and is about moving to a dry arid region of Australia to follow the man you love. Ah…a bit of romance never goes astray!
Indigenous clap sticks and didgeridoo feature on Out of the Dreaming which travels again to the western plains. The ghostly Min Min lights are part of the Australian folklore.
The final and title track of the album is the uplifting anthem-like Common Man which brings a feeling of completeness to the end of the album. We’re all together and on the same page – you can’t help but join in and sing along with this one!
Julie Minto aka Mama Juju.