A baker’s dozen of albums from Australian country star Troy Cassar-Daley and Freedom Ride sees him sticking to the knitting – a Jackson Browne-ish opener (Take A Walk In My Country) and a bit of old-fashioned country here (Something About Trains) a more modern ballad there (Tennessee Rain) – and though he relies on the tried and true tropes (and some of the tired clichés) of the genre this won’t disappoint the fans he’s built up in his home country.
He calls on Australian music heavyweights Jimmy Barnes and Paul Kelly to imbue Two Weeks On, Two Weeks Off and Freedom Ride respectively. Where Two Weeks is one of those nearly-tired country-rock plodders (nothing to see here, not much to hear either), the title track is the album’s highlight. Kelly’s involvement lends it an air of his work with Uncle Bill, and the song’s subject matter (a tribute to politician and activist Charles Perkins) fits with so much of Kelly’s finest work; the understanding he has of indigenous life and music helps to inform the spirit of the song.
When Cassar-Daley chews down hard on the words, as on Drive It, he spits out dated country-rock clichés. And they swim in pub-riff gravy. But hey, this is what his fans know and love.
The ballads redeem the throwaway rockers and Black Mountain has something majestic in its melodic weave. But too often the patriotism-overdrive – Another Australian Day – seems to sap the energy that’s been placed into the “important” songs that hide, almost embarrassed, in the folds.