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The Jed Rowe Band’s second album is a roots tour-de-force. The Ember and The Afterglow rarely settles in one style, but the quality of the playing, production and storytelling is very much consistent. Castlemaine kicks things off with impressive fretwork, gut-wrenching harmonica and a gripping nostalgic tale of a woman succumbing to the horrors of childbirth in rural Victoria. The wicked riffage in Bloodlines rivals that of John Butler and his trio, while Across the Water is another tale of loss and love led this time by a bouncing banjo line. This Love Divine is a charming string-laced ballad, even though Jed’s voice is stark and static at times throughout. On Waiting By Your Side, however, his singing is much more striking, particularly when coupled with the lyrics of romantic yearning. The stellar musicianship of the trio – featuring Rowe on guitar/vocals, Michael Arvanitakis on bass/keys/strings and Michael Di Cecco on percussion – is to be commended, as is roots veteran Jeff Lang’s stunningly clear production. Perhaps most of note, though, is the personal and localised stamp that the band put on each and every song – on Violet Town, for instance, they make it their own by telling of the “lonely rumble of the Hume Highway”. A respectful and well-rounded credit to the Australian roots music scene.

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