Stranger In My Land

Roger Knox And PVC

Bloodshot Records, 2013

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Roger Knox is an Australian Aborigine singer who is better known as the Black Elvis. After a nine-year break, Knox has returned with a long list of esteemed names to lend a hand on Stranger In My Land. With contributions from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Dave Alvin, Kelly Hogan, Andre Williams, and Sally Timms among others, this collection brings together traditional and lost songs originally penned by Aborigine artists who influenced Knox. Knox provides his smooth, flawless vocals and many guest vocalists are on board. The Pine Valley Cosmonauts, featuring Jon Langford of the Mekons fame, provide the instrumentation. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Though the music here is generally upbeat, the lyrical content is very critical, as it details the Aborigine's undying devotion to their homeland and the deep-seated struggles they've endured. Stories of children being removed from families, institutionalized racism, and unjust prison time come through via Knox's uplifting view of country music. Like all good country music, the story is just as meaningful as the music and these stories are of dire importance, to put it mildly.

A very palatable mix of twangy country, warm Americana ideas, and folk spirited sounds, “Scobie's Dream” and “The Land Where The Crow Flies” represent a more backwoods, honky-tonk direction, “Took The Children Away” and “Ticket To Nowhere” are rustic ballads, while “Brisbane Blacks” brings some pop melodies into the mix. The duets here are exceptional, pairing heavenly female voices with Knox's baritone, “Arafura Pearl” and “Streets Of Tamworth” both being disc highlights, the former having a classic country sound.

This is a culturally significant disc that so eloquently follows the plight of his people. Knox and company deliver a timeless, honest and emotionally stirring listen of authentic Australian country roots. People have often cited Knox as Australia's answer to Johnny Cash, and the accomplished work here certainly does run parallel. This also comes with a very thorough 24-page booklet with detailed history of the songs – a nice addition in this digital age and another reason that this disc is worth picking up.

Rating: A

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© 2013 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Bloodshot Records, and is used for informational purposes only.