Album Review: (strangely​)​(emotional) sees Dave Graney and Clare Moore paint a vivid portrait of life on a whimsical canvas.

The Breakdown

With an arched eyebrow and a studied pose, Graney's arch lyrics interweave throughout in this album with the brilliant instrumentation provided by the couple (with some guest musicians) that create a vaudevillian and theatrical journey that is fey and magical.
Independent 8.8

Surely the coolest couple in the antipodean music scene, Dave Graney and Clare Moore have today released their new album ‘(strangely)(emotional)’ and it is a journey into the magnificently astute and erudite world of Graney’s fervent imagination. And yet this world is firmly grounded in reality as song titles such as ‘I’m Already Missing The Lockdown’ and ‘Covid’ suggest. Graney has an ability to identify the minutia of everyday life, put it under a microscope and dissect it to its constituent ingredients, and then reassemble in his imagery.

And what does the unusual title signify? It is a reflection of the zeitgeist, according to Graney:

(strangely)(emotional) is so carefully titled because that’s the age we live in. A person has to be sure and careful of their words. It’s a sensitive area, the world, in 2024. Even though it is also brutal , viral and violent all at once. (The ground we walk upon is contested and just holding together with surface tension). So the words are quarantined from each other, in parentheses so as not to be qualifying
or commenting on the other.

Graney’s lyrics are always a source of deep fascination and high amusement – a fact recognised by the release of a book of his lyrics between 1980 and 2023 last year – ‘There He Goes With His Eye Out’ – (and available here).

With an arched eyebrow and a studied pose, Graney’s arch lyrics interweave throughout in this album with the brilliant instrumentation provided by the couple (with some guest musicians) that create a vaudevillian and theatrical journey that is fey and magical.

Opening track ‘Back In A Day’ illustrates Graney’s wry witty delivery:

back in the day, back in the day
people say that
did you have a day?
a particular day to anchor your life
a day to pivot about
to swing out like a may pole
a legendary day
a hey day

Hawaiian guitars reverberate in the background beneath Graney’s dulcet tones that warble like a Las Vegas crooner in his observant, wry style, his lyrics as always an excoriating and precise attack on affectations. ‘Family Gatherings’ continues with this theme:

here’s to all my uncles and aunties
in their prime
in their pomp
in their best cardigans and slacks and summer shifts and flatties
janglin’ their keys and eatin’ their cake from their knees

Graney paints a hilarious picture of – as the title suggest- family gatherings with all the clichés and traditions skewered in an affection way. The lyrics are as vivid and expressive as a painting. ‘My Cancellation Came Through’ is delivered over rolling acoustic guitars, distant oboe fluttering and erotic sighs as Graney skewers the modern cancellation culture phenomenon with a hint of careless regret.

‘Creative Creep’ has that louche, laid back, cool feel, filled with Graney’s poetic discourse as serious and intense as it is witty and laconic. The vintage sounds and the jazzy cool exterior sparkle as Graney sings:

Don’t fence me in! And get in too! Let me be! Let me be! A creative creep! Ya standin’ too close to the flames!

With nothing to declare but his genius and sartorial splendour, Graney’s delivery is as always poised and immaculate.

A sultry, smoky saxophone heralds ‘Love Story’ a lounge room jazzy epistle that is louche, free and a veritable horror tale of teen love in all its graphic awfulness. Certainly not the love story you would expect. At the fore is Ganey and Moore’s musical prowess – creating lush instrumental layers that are epic and cinematic. ‘I Said No To Myself’ has an Ennio Morricone mixed with the Mike Sammes Singers feel about it with its choral backing vocals and Graney’s reflective delivery.

‘I’m Already Missing Lockdown’ has a bossa nova beat replete with snapping fingers whereas Graney’s sympathetic paean to the disease, ‘Covid’, is delivered on an motorik beat and sparkling guitars. ‘Madly, Softly, Harder’ swirls with an aquatic tone and birdsong in the distance, an ambient track that looks poignantly at age and the passage of time:

you know how you see a big flock of birds – starlings- flying in an enormous formation
turning and moving as one, suddenly here then swooping, gathering like a wave, a rush , but there’s no shore, no floor
maybe we’re like that?
in time?

‘(strangely)(emotional)’ is an antipodean drama eloquently played out over an incredible number of genres that provide a picture perfect synopsis of life in our times. It is out today and available through all the usual sites and the links below.

All instruments played by Dave Graney and Clare Moore.
Dave Graney, guitars, bass, autoharp, harmonica, vocals.
Clare Moore, drums, vibes, keys, percussion, backing vocals.

Last year saw a triumphant Dave Graney and the Coral Snakes tour Australia celebrating the 30th anniversary of the classic album ‘Night of the Wolverine’ (see my review here) and the year before that Graney and Moore were ‘Dave Graney & Clare Moore in a mistLY’. Now, it is just plain Graney and Moore together but the result is that the stylish, urbane and sardonic couple return with as much panache as ever.

Catch them live on the following dates (details and tickets here):

Friday May 3rd Dave Graney and Clare Moore play The Agrestic Grocer, Orange NSW

Saturday May 4th Dave Graney and Clare Moore play The Boutique Room, Katoomba NSW.

Sunday May 5th Dave Graney and Clare Moore play THE STAG AND HUNTER, Newcastle NSW.

Friday May 10th Dave Graney and Clare Moore play Lyric Lane, Maylands , WA

Saturday May 11th Dave Graney and Clare Moore play the Duke Of George in East Fremantle, WA.
Saturday May 18th Dave Graney and Clare Moore play the Northern Arts Hotel in Castlemaine, Vic
Saturday June 8th (strangely)(emotional) Melbourne album launch at Kindred in Yarraville.

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