“The songs on Send Flowers suggest being on the road—a band of wandering troubadours picking up fine guest players along the way. Angel Olsen guested on their second record and Freakwater’s Catherine Irwin joined in on Fantasy Error; this outing brings Edith Frost on vocals and Christopher May on pedal steel. Star-chart the album and you’d likely peg its origin to some after-midnight hour, gas-station coffee mugs filling the cup holders of a van, when the only two or three people still awake let fly strange, salient thoughts: riffs on lives hidden beyond the lights of the highway.
Silver Jews are among State Champion’s obvious kin, and Send Flowers’ packaging duly comes bearing a blurb from David Berman: “If Bob Dylan was funny, if Tom Waits was relevant, Ryan might not be peerless at what he does best, which is writing large gregarious circles around his pitiful colleagues in the field.” Humor equips the dreamiest of these songs with necessary gravity. Before a recent State Champion show I’d been re-reading the poet James Tate’s The Ghost Soldiers, and the feeling of those poems, which swerve between absurd and realistic encounters told by wry, profound narrators, shares an affinity with Davis’ plainspoken lyrics, which are more deliberate than they appear. His lines flow in a deceptively offhand lilt, though the structures are more ornate than they seem…
With just seven tracks, the album leaves you wanting more. But that’s the nature of the road, too. Travel the country enough and you become a witness to tiny changes imperceptible to people who live in those places…It might be an acknowledgement of the things in life that will go unexplained for the ages to come. Send Flowers is a tribute to those mysteries—to the small, vital impressions, and the music left in their wake.” – Rebecca Bengal, Pitchfork
“Each of the album’s seven songs are total gems, packed with thrift store wisdom and woozy wistfulness…Ryan Davis has a keen eye for the odd detail that transforms the mundane into the magical.” – Tyler Wilcox, Aquarium Drunkard
“This record – one of a short list of my favorites this year – should put State Champion within striking distance of the more recognized musical storytellers of the current century.” – Doug Mosurock, Still Single
Old Chestnut is the stunning new double album from Melbourne/Berlin singer songwriter Ned Collette. A truly accomplished work, a gorgeous dark folk opus, fleshed out in lush but precise and sparkling instrumentation thanks to a band of extraordinary collaborators. Featuring regular Wirewalker cohorts Joe Talia (who also co- produced the album with Collette) and Ben Bourke, plus Alexander Garsden, cellist Anthea Caddy, and piano from The Necks’ Chris Abrahams on the album’s monolithic centrepiece, ‘June’.
Ned says that Old Chestnut is the first album he has made that “feels like the albums I always wanted to make. It’s just messy enough, elaborate enough, simple enough, improvised and collaborative enough…” and it does feel like Old Chestnut is an elevation, and that with it, he has attained a level of songcraft that transcends his already impressive back catalogue. With snippets written as far back as 2008 and 4 years since his last album release, it’s been a long journey. The resultant work is cohesive and articulate in a way few albums are. A mixture of melancholy balladry interwoven with daedal and often delicate instrumentals that not only frame and anchor the “songs” but beautifully showcase the calibre of Collette’s arrangements and musicianship. This is the record that will etch the name Ned Collette into the lexicon of great Australian songwriters.
“Through dappled meadows and twilight forests… this hazy spellbound folk” – MOJO
“Old Chestnut is a haunting prog-folk song cycle for the ages… Collette has made a goddamn whale of an album.” – Byron Coley, Feeding Tube Records