Talented singer-songwriters and captivating aboriginal musicians from the outback come together on this fascinating journey to the land down under. Includes a recipe for Lamingtons, a traditional Australian dessert cake.
Australia features exceptional musicians whose songs reflect the broad diversity of cultures and international music that have influenced the country. Known by affectionate nicknames such as “The land down under” and “OZ,” Australia is home to surreal landscapes, unique flora and fauna and mystical indigenous cultures. Its fertile pop, country and rock music scene has bred scores of international stars. The compositions on this collection represent some of the cultural songlines connecting the people of Australia and the rest of the world.
The laid-back atmosphere of Australia’s beach and surfing communities proved fertile ground for international sounds such as reggae, ska and even African soukous, which influenced The Beautiful Girls’ opening track “Spanish Town.” A longtime boat captain and pearl diver, Queensland native Seaman Dan blends the sounds of American blues with traditional folk music from the Torres Strait where he was born. Seaman Dan named the first song he ever wrote, “T.I. Blues,” after his home, Thursday Island.
Australia has produced a number of worldwide stars, among them, Men At Work. The group’s 1980s pop hit “Down Under” became a de facto anthem for Australia. Here, their frontman Colin Hay reinterprets that iconic song with acoustic instrumentation. The Waifs achieved international popularity in 2003 with the album Up All Night. Their original song, “The Waitress,” describes a slice-of-life for a musician struggling to make it in Sydney. Multi-instrumentalist and activist Xavier Rudd has developed a wide following both abroad and at home with his unique, solo live-shows and compassionate, socially conscious songs. “Hope That You’ll Stay” appeared on the Torquay, Victoria native’s 2008 release Dark Shades of Blue.
Since the world music boom in the 1980s, musicians of all walks of life have adopted the didgeridoo after being transfixed by its haunting sound and deep spiritual resonance. Founded by American Graham Wiggins (who was inspired to play the digeridoo by his Australian mother) and British guitarist Martin Cradick, Outback introduced Australia’s iconic indigenous instrument to countless new listeners in the late 1980s. Described by Rolling Stone as “Australia’s Most Important Voice,” and by Sting as “the sound of a higher being,” blind Aboriginal singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu performs the haunting piece “Marwurrumburr,” which means ‘native cat’ in the Yolngu language.
A member of what has come to be called Australia’s “stolen generation,” Archie Roach was one of many Aboriginal children who were separated from their families and communities as a result of discriminatory government policies. Roach, whose lyrics often return to the theme of finding one’s place as an Aboriginal in modern Australia, has in turn become one of the most prominent voices for the continent’s indigenous communities. Here he sings along with Australian legendary singer-songwriter Paul Kelly on “We Won’t Cry.” Of Samoan heritage, Bobby Alu was born and raised on Australia’s Gold Coast, known for its surfing, natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle. His musically inclined mother saw that he was surrounded by Polynesian music while growing up. This influence shines through on “Changes Changes,” which features Polynesian log drumming running beneath Alu’s smooth vocals and warm ukulele strumming.
Based in Byron Bay, a beachside city in the state of New South Wales, Australian folk-pop group The Lucky Wonders was born when songwriters Emma Royle and Jessie Vintila partnered to compose live music for a puppet show. “Home” appeared on their 2010 debut, Thirteen O’Clock. Country music star Colin Buchanan was born in Ireland before moving to Australia at the age of six. He performs with fellow country music artists Lee Kernaghan & Sara Storer as they pay homage to their home country on “Song of Australia.”
Australia includes a recipe for Lamingtons, a traditional Australian dessert cake. Named after Lord Lamington, the governor of Queensland, Australia between 1896 and 1901, lamingtons are small sponge cake squares dipped in chocolate and coated with dried coconut.