Prepare Me Well
CAT # 83636-25
1. The Save 4:10 2. The Road Is Not Your Only Friend 2:38 3. London 4:17 4. Molasses And Stone 3:01 5. Whatever Makes You Happy 1:42 6. Too Easy To Kill 3:43 7. Mr. God 3:51 8. And All The Snow Melted 4:25 9. Bateman's Bay 2:37 10. Gina 3:16 11. Ravenswood 4:22 12. Cedar Grove 6:32 13. Everything Is Still 3:51 14. Prepare Me Well 4:39 15. Rain On Troy 5:48
Despite Lang’s Aussie roots, critics on this side of the world have taken notice in recent years. Dirty Linen has characterized him as “often hard and raw, sometimes sweet and melodic, and always innovative,” while Rolling Stone has heralded him as “Australia’s best roots-music artisan.” Earthy folk-rocker John Butler described Lang’s live show as something akin to “being in at church for three hoursa totally sacred event,” adding that “he’s the man as far as I’m concerned.”
Telarc introduces this brilliant artist to the States with the release of Prepare Me Well on June 27, 2006.
While folk musicin the traditional sense, at leasthas often been categorized as either meandering confessionals or statements of social protest set to music, Lang beats a path outside the strict confines of these two camps and creates music that invites listeners to draw their own conclusions. “Some of the best folk songs are the ones that stand outside of morality,” he says. “They throw virtue up in the air and let you draw what you will from them, and you find yourself saying, ‘I don’t quite know what to think about the characters in this story.’ That kind of ambiguity appeals to me. It’s so intensely personal that it stands apart from any defined categories of style.”
That open-ended approach to songwriting and storytelling is at the core of many of the songs on Prepare Me Well. The set opens with the driving clang of “The Save,” a haunting stream-of-conscious account of an emotionally strung-out train rider anxious to cover the long stretch of rail towards an uncertain outcome. The brief but darkly powerful follow-up track, “The Road Is Not Your Only Friend,” travels at dangerous speeds, fueled by a thrilling counterpoint of Lang on National steel guitar and Greg O’Leary on fiddle.
The angry, gun-themed “Too Easy To Kill” opens with a throbbing drumbeat and introduces Lang’s trademark overdriven acoustic guitar sound on a soaring slide guitar refrain with rapid-fire vocals that verge on rap. Partly mystical, partly tongue-in-cheek, “Mr. God” is a tale of the Creator’s search for new employment following the ravages of the Earth by “the ape that was too strong.”
“Bateman’s Bay” takes a quieter, more melancholy turnan atmosphere punctuated by the combination of Lang’s relaxed vocals and chiming slide guitar.
Lang’s slide guitar takes on an even more prominent role in the opening measures of “Ravenswood,” a chilling tale of a farm town so old and so dead that it must be haunted. Lang’s deft songwriting talents are summed up in the double meaning of a single lyric line in this spooky interlude: “Who’d want to sit down by the roadside here? Only Ravenswood.”
Heavy with an ominous mood that seems always on the verge of exploding, the title track is a dark lament for a relationship that once held promise but ultimately sank into something twisted and doomed.
Prepare Me Well is a stirring collection of tales well toldby an artist who blurs the lines between blues, folk and rock, between story and song. It’s a mesmerizing calling card from one of the most talented figures to emerge in many years.
Find out more about Jeff Lang