Posted by Aphra Magazine on 28/9/15.
Rarely do we see a band coincide the announcement of their breakup with the release of a new album; Sydney’s Sister Jane may just be breaking new ground here. Having endured the tumultuous departure of frontman Dan Davey in 2014—the presser describing a ‘man on the brink who turned to jesus, found his path to salvation and gave up rock n’ roll’—the longtime five-piece give us their final record, Frontier, which closes the door on a 10-year career. The situation is made more compelling by the quality of this release, which goes from strength to strength with an eclectic mix of Americana folk, new wave and European synth cuts. And while it is a shame that this creative flame no longer flickers, there is no better way to go out than with a bang.
‘Road To Evil’ resonates with a somberness that is both dark and beautiful, and the vocals are soft and brooding. It literally feels as though you’re travelling down a dark road, although there’s a quirky melodic combo there as well that breaks up the gloominess. Then there’s ‘The Farmer’, which is a lot mellower and flows smoother than its dark predecessor. Here Dan Davey sings, ‘I came looking for an answer. The farmer knew the reason why. My son, don’t dwell upon your sorrow. The rain will fall into the crack.’
‘You Can Have Me’ begins with suspenseful guitar strokes, as Lauren Crew enters the frame with her smooth and seductive voice. The guitar sounds are rhythmic and effortless, as Crew croons, ‘I imagined clothes of silk and lace with silver buttons to my waist. I pictured skin so soft and white you’d see me blush in the darkest night’.
First single ‘Whole Wide World’ is distinguished by a fast and catchy beat, propelled by the rusty, rock n’ roll edginess of Davey’s voice, who is once again on vocals here. ‘Lost Hotel’ is also another funky song that is addictive to listen to and makes you want to get up and dance. ‘Shellac’ once again showcases Crew’s tremendous vocal range and the guitar is sassy and seductive to match. Crew is feisty in the chorus, as she sings, ‘Ooooh he got me, oooh he got me, oooh he got me, this man’s pushing me to the end of the world’. When she repeats the chorus later on, she tweaks it by speaking from the man’s perspective, ‘oooh she got me, oooh she got me, oohh she got me, this girl’s pushing me to the end of the world’.
‘Wicked Wind’ begins with slow and beautiful acoustics, and Crew sings, ‘Your daddy’s down deep in a well. Your daddy’s down deep in a well. Hey Joe don’t you follow your daddy down deep in that well’. With her soft and sweet as honey voice Crew breathes warmth into every note. The final track, ‘Indifferent Prey’ is another acoustic lullaby that Davey grapples by the throat.
Frontier is a beautiful exploration of different sounds and genres, heartfelt and purposeful in its delivery. One can’t help but feel that Sister Jane has more great material within them, but with this gem of an album they leave on a good note, one we won’t soon forget.
Sister Jane – Frontier is out now via Broken Stone Records / Remote Control.