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RUTH HAZLETON - Daisywheel 

RUTH HAZLETON - Daisywheel 
Private Label RH001 

Melbourne-based singer, banjo player, guitarist and songwriter Ruth Hazleton has remained a prominent figure in Australia’s folk music scene since she began performing in 1995 with the Canberra-based band Closet Klezmer. Her later collaboration with Kate Burke saw the pair become two of Australia’s most respected and renowned folk musicians.

She now releases a new solo album, Daisywheel, in which she handles both the tasks of personalised song making and reinterpretation of traditional forms. This is a rich, fully-birthed album of songs both traditional and contemporary recalling influences from folk to Americana and dense claustrophobic industrial soundscapes. Ten Thousand Miles gets a surprisingly up-tempo reading which contrasts nicely with the more resigned lyrics in a more compact way than usual. I Wish The Wars Were Over and Same Old Man, both traditional songs, get more subdued readings, but the buoyant bluesy treatment of Walking Boss adds to the lustre of the package. A worthy inclusion is a dedication to the sponsors of each track.

Musically big and diverse, the emotional heart of the collection lies in its empathy for the under-dog and working classes, and such empathy is rendered in a manner both compelling and intimately fierce. Ruth’s own songwriting has developed and grown in stature and depth, with The Killing Times being a compelling and supple opener - a protest song and also one of watchful wisdom on world events. Messiahs Of Hate and State Of The World also carry a similar face lyrically. Making songs rich and bold without being either domineering or didactic is a difficult balance, but she carries it off well, surrounding herself with composite musicianship and an articulate sense of delivery. Daisywheel is, in short, a big package delivering big truths in small dry measured sequences and is worth more than a casual listen to unearth the riches possessed therein.

John O’Regan