crawling back to youCrawling Back To You – Stu & The Connections (Crankinhaus Records)

There’s a lot of ground covered on this mini-album (digital only) from Stu Wilson and his all-star collective The Connections. The drummer with Lime Spiders, New Christs, The Crisps, Loose Pills, Leadfinger, Aberration and Chris Masuak & Dog Soldier, Stu contributes lead vocals, keyboards harmonica, drums and percussion..

Looking at his c.v., you might have certain expectations. Leave your preconceptions at the door. This is a cohesive collection of  seven songs that cajole and captivate rather than assault. 

Not that they lack intensity but there are other qualities at play here. The blurb calls it "shimmering rock/indie pop" and it ain’t wrong. The hooks are evident throughout, but they’re understated. Therein lies much of its brooding charm.

This Stu bloke is talented in his own right, anchoring the songs with sure-footed feels and centring them with his warm vocal. Being a psych nurse by trade, it’s difficult to resist the thought that he’s putting himself on the couch with some of the lyrical content, but you’d have to ask the man himself and he charges by the quarter-hour.

He keeps good company: Dean Coulter (Decline of the Reptiles) adds some stinging guitar to “Broken In Two”. That’s ex-New Christ turned label chief Al Creed’s edgy slide and licks punctuating “A Like Is Not a Life” and it’s Matt Galvin (Loose Pills, Barbarellas, Happy Hate Me Nots) bending those notes/having them bent on the captivating “A Place In Your Heart”. 

Nick Meredith (Matt Finish, Jim Keays, Russell Morris and Daryl Cotton) brings guitar to the kaleidoscopic title track and “Best of Me”, while bass contributions come from Andy Newman, Michael Barnfield and Phil Hall. Master mixer and masterer (try saying that out loud five times) Ernie O added keyboards.

“A Like Is Not a Life” is a rocking condemnation of social media’s shallowness, the acid-drenched “Best of Me” shoots for a “Rubber Soul” sound (and mostly succeeds) and “Is This a Low” is a stark country-grunge, with just Barnfield on bass and Stu on everything else. “Volcanic Boy” is steady rather than explosive, but is a real grower.

The recording was done at Stu’s own Stu Stu Studio in Sydney’s inner-west and the mixing and mastering was by Ernie O at his Urban Fringe Compound in Melbourne. Sounds and seems like a good advert for both.


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