BMA single review by Vince Leigh
A country-rock tale.
The new track from Australian folk-country music artist Charlie Powling is a variously textured upbeat country-rock tale of love lost whose redemptive powers rely on insight, confession and a sense of thwarted illusion.
As Charlie tells us, featured in the song’s chorus, ‘For my days they are numbered / Got to squeeze what I can from life.’ Drive The Highway does seem to squeeze quite a bit from a first-person narrative that retains a subtext we can never truly decipher apart from using the loss of ‘tenderness’ as the locus of a relationship’s demise.
Yet, the lyric is not laced with bitterness as with a nostalgic sort of adherence to time, the ultimate adjudicator. Helping to elucidate this exploration of the past as it mingles with the present is a musical landscape that features rollicking guitars, a considered appropriation of groove changes—with the chorus’ time change the most obvious—corroborating backing vocals and an adherence to all the subtleties and nuances that contribute to the genre.
From the get-go, Drive The Highway is determinable yet that does not necessarily negate the feeling of effortlessness that permeates the track—this is perhaps one of the most appealing elements of the record, Charlie reveals his story in a convincing, often energy-charged way, laying bare all the vulnerabilities hidden, and not so, in the inflexions of his voice.
We are swept along on the tide of his troubadour-like focus, as can sometimes happen when a song contains a host of connecting points, such as the direct nature of the lyric, however poetically ruminative it is, or the unadorned performances, as they help communicate Charlie’s romantically hued yarn.
This combination of analogical reasoning, such as in the lines, ‘The wind whispers to me / A broken heart can set you free / We did not cease to be / It just became a memory’, and the track’s robust musical application is just the kind of mixture that can help Charlie Powling reach a wide and appreciative audience.