DBMagazine Westgate Review
A positive review of Mark’s “Westgate” album.
Author: Peter Strelan.
Date: 27 June 2007.
Original URL: http://www.dbmagazine.com.au/415/cd-MS.shtml
Mark Seymour has worked hard to find a niche for himself in the decade following the demise of his band, Hunters And Collectors. It hasn’t been easy. Australian male singer-songwriters from Seymour’s era abound (James Reyne, Shane Howard, Nick Barker, to name a few), and all mine a similar vein as they cast experienced eyes over the trials and tribulations of relationships.
On ‘Westgate’ Seymour seems to have broken away from the pack and perhaps arrived at his calling: using familiar country-rock structures and melodies, he documents the struggles of working class lives. In so doing, Seymour finds heroism and inspiration in stories both big and small. There is the tale of Eddy Halsall, a construction worker who survived the collapse of Melbourne’s Westgate Bridge in 1970 (Westgate); a son’s eulogy to his digger father (the poet Geoffrey Goodfellow’s Tobruk Pin); reality checks in Love Is A Heavy Load (marriage as a marathon) and Year Of The Dog (alcoholism); and comments on war (Steve Earle’s Jerusalem), mateship (Walk Through Fire), politics (Masters Of Spin), and evangelism (Feel The Lord).
Such subject matter of course isn’t new, but in Seymour’s hands it makes sense. The Hunnas were your archetypical blue collar Australian pub rock band, muscular and sweaty, and Seymour’s white singlet earnestness and straight-up storytelling style suits his new angle well. ‘Westgate’ possesses the sort of gravity that one associates with Seymour, but it doesn’t weigh down the essential hopefulness of the stories.