Brendan Welch’s thumb, it is green no more. The Gleaner doesn’t sound like the work of an industry newcomer (although Welch only came on the scene late-2006), nor the awkward or over-ambitious debut album one might have expected. Rather, we get Halls of Men, a song that feels so timeless and sincere, you’d think you’d heard it in the womb. It’s on this track Welch shows his gift for cryptic lines and emotional delivery; “These songs are sung best / by the singer who’s blind as all possessed / and words like demons come,” – then a crescendo, and release, and it’s less like the coming of demons, more like angels, more like Neil Young covering OK Computer(!), the clashing of cymbals and straining voices of a country choir. Paul Dempsey’s (Something For Kate) production suits Welch to a tee, soaking him with warm guitars and keyboards when he needs force, stripping it back where Welch’s folk influences come closer to the surface – like on Time Line, a ballad with the gothic gravitas to rival Leonard Cohen and a connection to the “ordinary” Australian experience easily comparable to Paul Kelly. Elsewhere, he channels Cash (There’s Time Enough For Anything), Jeff Tweedy (Think I Always Thought), and something like Nick Cave (Atom Fire), but Welch holds his own against his canonical precursors, to deliver an album at once sincere and sophisticated. More to come, please.