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Thursday 30 May 2024

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The Natural Selection Australian Songbook – Bush Gothic

Jul 21, 2016

Bush Gothic are band leader Jenny M. Thomas together with double bassist Dan Witton and drummer Chris Lewis. ‘The Natural Selection Australian Songbook’ contains ten Australian Folk songs that have been lovingly rearranged by the band… Hang on, that’s sounding a bit dry… try this; Jenny Thomas, along with her two accomplices have completely reinvented Australian Folk Music – These aren’t just re-arrangements of well loved trad songs, Thomas has dug up the corpse of songs such as Botany Bay and Waltzing Matilda, taken their insides out, got rid of the crap, sewn it up and reanimated them as something vital and alive.

They are light years away from the all too common by-the-numbers reiteration of folk song that can reduce the most exciting and gutsy story to a mindless, dogmatic nursery rhyme. These songs expose the raw heart of the Australian people, so yes there are tales of convicts, transportation and suffering, but this time they reveal something more. It is the dark heart of a land that was peopled by another societies ‘undesirables’, now it’s a country that countless people want to emigrate to.

Thomas is a wonderful violinist and forms the core of much of the work here, on repeated listenings the ethereal quality of her abilities is revealed. She has unlocked something here that gives fresh insight into the old songs and the people that wrote them, on it’s own that’s not so unusual, but somehow Thomas has shone a light on Australia today. Heritage should be something that lives in all of us, not behind a dusty screen in a museum, this makes it live.

Iain Hazlewood

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