Anne McCue - Koala Hotel
Sydney born Anne McCue, the youngest of eight children, has been around for a few years now, releasing her first album for Cooking Vinyl in 2004. Roll received some praise, and her new release Koala Motel sees her back with a bigger sound, mixing both acoustic and electric guitar to fine effect on an album full of impressive songwriting. Co-produced by band member Dusty Wakeman, it comes across as a collaborative effort, the sound of a band who play well together, working as a unit.
Sure, this is AOR through and through, and there is little edge, but it doesn't stop the quality of the song-writing shining through. There are some interesting themes explored here, songs full of spirituality and a basic yearn for a better life. Opening track Driving Down Alvarado sets the tone well, with a easy, rocking beat and a thumping bass line. Better still is From Bakersfield to Saigon, musically reminiscent of early REM.
Highlights to me though include Sweet Burden of Youth - the melody and the vocals merging in a bitter-sweet fashion, the lazy sound of the song set well against the cutting lyric. Jesus' Blood is also a well written song, with a pounding rhythm and a gentle accordion.
Its not all great - some songs are far too old-fashioned in sound, particularly Any Minute Now and Hellfire Raiser, which just seems to go on forever. But all this aside, there is no denying that Ann McCue has a fine voice, and a heap of talent when it comes to writing songs.