Singer songwriter and local bard Van Walker released this album in 2009, it was the culmination of one all night session at a studio in Brunswick after an earlier attempt to record in Nagambie was aborted at the last minute. Most of the songs were completed in one take not that you would be able to recognise it as the album is beautifully performed. Van has to be one of the most underrated songwriters in this country, he has the innate ability to craft stories that have your ear and imagination gripped to the stereo, but there is also this intense romanticism in some of his lyrics.
The Last Record Store is drenched in old time country and bluegrass a stand up bass keeps your foot tapping and there is plenty of intricate mandolin and acoustic guitar work. The album begins with the lilting Three Sheets accepting life for what it is and being realistic and accepting of the future even if it's on ones own. Born Posthumously shows the depth to his songwriting it's oblique and a little dark but it's bought to life by a clarinet solo that opens the song and spreads daintily across the bridge. The title track is a tribute to local record store owner Alex Morton who ran The Last Record Store in Collingwood for nearly 20 years, I remember talking to him about Van and he was a huge fan it, was Alex who I bought this album from and told me about his other albums. Old Joe is the captivating story of a retired veteran whose past deeds and sacrifice are barely known and even less respected, for his ideals of common respect he is accused of terrible deeds. Dead Man Song keeps that thin theme of a troubled existence, what happens when you cross the line and destroy the important things in life. Some broad strokes of fiddle and a fading harmonica at the end of the song.
Travelling Man would sit well in the vanguard of horror country even though it's a label I don't like nor understand. Once again Van is adept at telling a story that is chilling and dark, it's definitely the most explicitly dark song on the album, a stranger with little regard for human life prowling the bush and taking the life of anything that crosses his path.
There's a mean side of me they never see,
I past a woman standing in the rain
Picked her up, pretended I was her friend
And she was never seen again.
Timbuktu has the same feeling of nostalgia that you might hear in the Band's Rocking Chair, the story of Mr bones who is travelling the long highway to meet his old friend Master Willie who is reaching the end of his days, there is still a journey ahead for Mr Bones the road is long but he has the memory of his lifelong friend, a beautiful song.
The next thing for me is too catch Van live I've missed a few opportunities on that score, I read that he is currently playing in Liz Stringers band.