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Posted on July 24th, 2012 (10:29 am) by Andres Moral

Australian singer, Jack Ladder (aka Tim Rogers), has built up a celebrated career with his smoky, bass-heavy voice, which strikes a few too many similarities to Nick Cave’s own baritone crooning. Ladder joins his band, the Dreamlanders, on his third album, Hurtsville on Holloweyed Records. Hurtsville continues Ladder’s trend of deeply emotive, epically vocalized passion, which fans have come to expect. It’s a slow, stewing romantic collection, bleeding the sound of ‘80s romanticism with every step of its slow beat. Each track flawlessly compliments Ladder’s downhearted expression thanks to the wonderfully executed musical stylings of his Dreamlanders crew composed of Donny Benét, Kirin J Callinan, and Laurence Pike. Their combined effort results in a dark, gloomy, and extremely magnetic sound piercing right into the heart of the listener.

The opening track, “Beautiful Sound,” slowly fades into a soundscape of splashing drums, echoing guitar chords, and seismic bass notes, cradling Ladder’s oddly playful lyrics—often contrasting with the solemnity of the music it describes. His words are replete with everyday imagery turned on its head with lines such as, “I picked the lemons to make lemonade—you drink the juice but you don’t taste the fruit, you get the warmth without the burning pain.” He curls his words around to his whim, singing every lyric with such a masterfully effortless passion that by the time he gets to the main chorus hook, “the heart breaks and makes a beautiful sound,” the ears can’t help but lay back and swoon.

“Cold Feet,” removes a little of that opening mystery, and replaces it with a more straightforward pop. It continues to move with its slow burden to complement Ladder’s voice, continuing to rattle off with frisky lyrical chunks such as the “I want to make like a tree, I want to—I want to leave.” It’s a risky move to write such beautifully serious melodies to such silly little light-hearted quips, but Jack Ladder layers in so much of his deep-bodied passion over them that they seem perfectly natural, and not-at-all noticeable unless one really sits close to their speakers and pays attention.

“Hurtsville,” pulls in at the third track, stepping the beat down to a pair of floor tom taps dotting along to a light tambourine splashing and sustained synth notes. Ladder releases a sadder than usual torrent of somber images such as a dying town, and a father having to tell his baby that his mother will never return. He manages to continue to transmit his aptly hurting metaphors with the same charming diction as before, singing delightful lines such as “all my past lovers have become the best of friends; they hold a weekly meeting, and they’re plotting their revenge—The soil is so soft I dug my grave just to stand still.”

The fifth track “Short Memory,” is one of the few songs on the album sporting a slightly elevated beat, and it’s accompanied by sustained synth notes moving along to a rapid-fire of percussive bass held over a slamming snare and an occasionally screaming guitar. Jack Ladder, again plays it cool with his slow-as-black-molasses style sounding like a brooding Elvis Presley, despite the ridiculous opening line, “I lost my virginity again last night—you say it’s gone but it puts up a fight,” which doesn’t even last a minute before being outdone by, “the lumberjacks go deep sea diving in wet dreams.” Like every other song in the album, the borderline comedy of Ladder’s words hide so well in the emotion and soul of the record, the absurdities never even cross the listener’s ear.

Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders’ Hurtsville is verses and verses of somber poetry, which somehow manage to lift the spirits. The quirky set of lyrics is just another stratum of depth added to the professional polish of every single track. Each song moves slowly, and may be a little long for certain tastes, but while other musicians bore their audiences with unnecessary length, Ladder enthralls and keeps the ears on the edge, begging for more.

Purchase the record on iTunes or Google Play.

Track List:
1. Beautiful Sound
2. Cold Feet
3. Hurtsville
4. Position Vacant
5. Short Memory
6. Blinded by Love
7. Dumb Love
8. Giving Up the Giving

Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders: Hurtsville
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

72 / 100
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