Various Artists/Kev Carmody
Cannot Buy My Soul: The Songs Of Kev Carmody
32 Track, Compilation (2007, Virgin)
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Related: Kev Carmody.
Tribute albums are an odd thing – an artist loved for their originality is honoured by being subsumed under a mosaic of other aesthetics: Kev Carmody can be an earnest country-dub star (John Butler Trio), a hip-hop rhymer (Last Kinection, The Herd) or MOR wonder (The Waifs, Bernard Fanning). Thankfully Cannot Buy My Soul includes a disc with Carmody’s original versions. This disc is the better listen here – a veritable best of – that shows the Queensland troubadour’s humble songs in their naked glory. Carmody has a peerless talent for consistently turning a deeply felt political cause into a deeply felt story of people and places.
Of the covers, Carmody’s songs work best for those artists who are already associated with storytelling. The Drones’ take on ‘River of Tears’ sounds like an extension of their Gala Mill album – a stark tale of desolation that swells and recedes with some primal blues pulse. Dan Kelly makes his own the detail-filled story of ‘I’ve Been Moved’. In a strange three-way combination, Augie March, Paul Kelly and Missy Higgins team up for ‘Droving Women’. Augie and Paul Kelly are justifiably well known for their literary lyrical turn, but Higgins works surprisingly well here; the gentle cadences of Carmody’s tale moving beyond the mawkish and narcissistic tendencies of her own pen. At worst, this tribute could be a mere dinner-party showpiece for ‘concerned,’ brow-furrowing young professionals. At best, the big drawcards here could bring further acclaim to a deserving artist – and, more importantly, to the plight and battles of those in his stories.
by Ben Gook