The Paper Kites – At the Roadhouse

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Album Review by Phil M

Australian country/folk rockers The Paper Kites have their sixth album ‘At the Roadhouse’ released on September 1st. The band started out in Melbourne in 2010 and has released five prior albums and has had a staggering billion-plus streams of their music. They’ve also toured extensively around the globe.

They had an innovative approach to this album. They quietly holed up in the small Australian town of Campbells Creek to work on the double album, rehearsing during the day and playing a series of free unannounced concerts as the house band during the weekend evenings. As vocalist Sam Bentley said “We’d had the idea for quite a while – to post up at a venue, open it to the public, and play there as the house band. We came across this old building literally on the side of the road, and we thought we could transform it into The Roadhouse bar we’d been looking for. Once we opened the doors, it was like walking into a dream.”

They came across what would become the Roadhouse in 2022 and converted the space into their venue mirroring “all the great dives bars we’d been to around the world” and added their own personal touches to make it into a space they could call their own.

The album is mellow in approach with the use of a wide variety of instrumentation and vocal harmonies which weave well together in a tight sound. Starting with ‘Midnight Moon’ you can hear the murmurings of the audience before the kick drum gets the song moving. That though is the only indication that the album has its origins in a live set. There is pedal steel underpinning the track and good vocal harmonies in the chorus. Black and Thunder starts with a neat guitar and Fender Rhodes riff, the verses are book-ended by a guitar riff with nice string bends.

‘Marietta’ is slower with more pedal steel and a great guitar sound. It’s more country than the earlier tracks. ‘Rolling On Easy’ is also in the country vein with picked banjo accompanying throughout. ‘Hurts So Good’ is another single from the album, again with banjo and pedal steel and a slow soulful beat.

‘Good Nights Gone’ with its different sounding tremolo guitar intro picks up the pace a little before the slower ‘Burn the Night Away’ concludes the first set.

The second set starts with what is the standout track for me – the more rock-based, ‘June’s Stolen Car’ with a nice, distorted guitar, very reminiscent and dual vocals in the memorable chorus and a good but short lead guitar solo. It reminds me of Tom Petty at this best and was their most recent single release.

‘Maria, It’s Time’ has a lovely guitar sound and riff and good vocal harmonies throughout as well as a memorable chorus. ‘Green Valleys’ sees the return of the tremolo guitar to this slower track with an understated harmonica solo. ‘I Don’t Want to Go That Way’ has an epic-sounding guitar – like Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’ in tone and steel backing to the soulful lyrics.

‘Pocket Full of Rain’ starts with vocals over a picked acoustic guitar with piano and later pedal steel joining. The vocals are right up front in the mix lending the track an intimate feel. ‘Mercy’ has a nicely distorted guitar riff and a more bluesy feel to it before ‘Darkness at My Door’ with its distorted guitar over strummed acoustic and is another rocky track. This is

a fine way to finish the album. And has the audience applause at the end before a gospel chorus fades out.

If you like your music on the laid-back side and like a country/folk feel this album should be on your playlist.

Track Listing:

Set One

1. Midnight Moon

2. Till the Flame Turns Blue

3. Black & Thunder

4. Marietta

5. Rolling on Easy

6. Hurts So Good

7. Good Nights Gone

8. Burn the Night Away

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