Long Road Back Home is the first album in eight years from Dave Brewer, an artist who comfortably sits amongst the giants of Rhythm and Blues in the Australian music scene. Blues, Roots, Soul, Funk, Jazz – Brewer is a musician who effortlessly slips, slides and dances between, through and around these genres, seamlessly distilling them into an unmistakably Australian sound while he does so.
Brewer has put together 11 tracks that feel somewhat like summer to these ears. A summer where you’re free, easy and relaxed about what has been, and what’s to come. Listening to this album is to feel the weight lift from your shoulders, the worries recede to the back of your mind; even if the lyrics say otherwise.
Chilled, smooth, languid, effortlessly cool; by the end of track one it feels like a warm weekend late afternoon, with the only dilemma you face is to choose what to drink as the sun sets. Perhaps it’s the luxury of extended time in the studio, enjoyed by a musician with nothing much left to prove that gives the album its relaxed yet intoxicating feel.
That luxury of time to develop, reshape and polish the songs at Sundown Studios was one of a number of firsts Brewer experienced with this recording project. The album is also the initial release for the Sundown Studio’s offshoot – the new Sundown Records label. Another first was that the album marked the beginning of a family affair for Brewer, with one song, ‘Make Everything Alright’, co-written with his son Riley, and some keyboard parts brilliantly played by his Nashville-based nephew Ryan Brewer.
Family was joined by old friends such as Clayton Doley sculpting and orchestrating his Hammond Organ, Fabian Hevia bringing his masterful conga playing talents, and JZ (Jonathan Zwartz) – an old compadre from Brewer’s days in Newtown, Sydney back in the 80s – who takes on the double bass for ‘Many A Fool Will Understand’ – a guest spot long wished for by Brewer. Old friends take many forms, and track 7, ‘Lonely Part of Town,’ and the last track on the album, Night Walkin’ make reappearances – in very different incarnations from previous recordings.
More recent friends Ben Franz (double bass), Jeremy Trezona (tenor sax), Alex Borthwick (electric bass) and Harry Mitchell (piano) play here with great passion, and Elliot Smith (also the producer) sets the tone with complete authority on the skins. It may indeed be a “Long Road Back Home” – but it’s a wonderful journey when the road travelled is accompanied by music this fine. Brewer, his friends and family are all at the top of their game with this record.