Oliver di Place web blog review
"Spike Flynn is a wonderful songwriter from Australia. His shorter songs are little slices of life that perfectly capture the emotions of his characters in just a few lines. But his longer songs are a revelation. These are perfect noir short stories, dripping with atmosphere. As with any good short story, the plotting is tight, with the resolutions feeling completely satisfying. Silver Nitrate Serenade is a superb example. I couldn’t help as I listened to this one seeing in my head Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not.
This music is not blues exactly, but it shows that Flynn is well versed in blues styles. The basic band is drums, bass, acoustic guitar, and keyboards. Sometimes, harmonica or saxophone are added for color and flavor. Flynn sings in voice that reminds me of Mark Knopfler’s, although Flynn sometimes gets gruffer. All in all, it’s a combination that works beautifully. I am looking forward to Spike Flynn’s next one, and if he publishes a novel or a book of short stories in the mean time, I hope I find out about it.”
"Spotlight Song of the Week: Spike Flynn: Silver Nitrate Serenade"
Review by Darius on Oliver di Place blogspot
It's Alright - Spike Flynn
Spike Flynn has been writing and singing his songs for a long time. All the while Spike has been on the move, restlessly working at perfecting these songs, and realigning his life to these efforts, towards some acceptable resolution to his musical and life pursuits.
At times Spike has moved across the vast dry plains and small western towns of New South Wales, Australia, with confident lengthy strides; at others he has been reduced to a shuffle of faltering confidence, slowed with a load, and trudging through the sludge. In more generous times Spike could be found promenading and pirouetting on a lucky drunk, or pausing for centredness on a parade for reverential prayer. From the Big Dry to running water, from dust to smothering humidity with tears everywhere, from sorrow and separation from values, to a hard fought return to honesty, and freedom, kindness and overdue acceptance.
This sense of movement and journey across the emotional and psychological terrains then is the cadence of Spike’s first release, It’s Alright , retracing the steps with reverential nods to country blues, balladeers, friendships, the drama of wide blue skies and black eternal nights, and the poets that flourish and die underneath.
As Flynn says on his liner notes, sorrow and joy can lead to acceptance and strength. And that’s where the journey kicks off with the opening song, It’s Alright, the title track in which Spike lets us know the blues are our constant companion, but they can save us. They come from the same place as love, and love is hope, is love. From the cradle to the grave, from sunrise to sunset they are with us. Walking tall, with a cast of easily recognisable characters who get a raw deal in life and love, Spike cajoles, and walks us with his band into an easy acceptance of this truth and leaves us with hope – it’s all right.
A Bluesy take on the drought follows and Fallin Rain Blues frog marches us down the road of lost love with moog mood guitar organ and piano. It’s a good blues standard with Spike’s vocals matching the prevailing climatic conditions. And of course there’s a getaway train, express to the next lesson in life and love. Silver Nitrate Serenade with its slow walking beat is that lesson, complete with photo albums of memories, caffeine and nicotine, ruminations and possessiveness of obsessions. Attempts at goodwill to this particular love are questioned seriously with a sax siren that highlights the bipolar nature of Flynn’s ruminations.
Breaking out of the trudge with a jaunty two stepping turn come a revival of sorts, of love, of rescue and reward at the risk of further damage with Falling into Love – Out of self defence. Accompanied by some wholesome bluegrass picking and rhythm comes the equation “if you don’t choose love, what’ve you got?” Love will set you free is the unadulterated message of this clever weighin up of the odds.
Hard times , it seems is from another time and place - with Henry Lawson centre stage in the parlour telling a story to the piano playing of the station owner’s wife. This song evokes the unsettling sad beauty of Henry leaving, again, to return to the city, alone leaving a silence heavy, with a sad secret intact.
Penny Whistle Lament – a story for us all. Dreams, songs, altruism, values, goodness, sent drifting and raised as dust by our own reckless self indulgences and habits, and carried away on any passing breeze. The song sings of soft defeat but its musical accompaniment is anything but soft, it’s relentless and unsettling and Flynn sings with the horror of those nights alone with nothing but the night wind calling.
Like a Runaway Train, & That’s the Way it Goes - are upbeat and positive. No matter where we’ve been or what’s happened, the kernel of who we are at birth remains close and within reach. Spike begs us to look for that safe place to retreat to when despair sets in. Keep it close, keep it simple and keep moving, with a tut in your strut, and a little glide in your stride.
The closing track Hold on, is a beautifully paced goodnight prayer, which shows that whatever Flynn has been through he has been served well by holding close the values and truths he was given. Along with these gifts , the tears sprung from lost love and life’s sorrows, coupled with the wisdom gained, have hydrated and nourished the arid landscapes of his past, and prepared the land well for the next harvest , which I look forward to impatiently.