Tony Eardley - reviews

Read the full reviews of Tony’s CD Desire Lines

‘Tony Eardley is well known to the musical community through his participation in such NSW choirs as Ecopella, the Solidarity Choir and The Spooky Men’s Chorale.

With Desire Lines, he makes his first foray into the world of solo recording. But he’s had lots of very well-directed assistance from the group of musicians supporting him, reading like a Who’s Who if NSW folk – Marcus Holden, Liz Frencham, Christine Wheeler, Gregg Telian and Caroline Trengove just to mention a few.

Desire Lines has been many years in the making. But it has been well worth the wait, being a slickly crafted, very European sounding recording – smooth, sweet and mellow, with Tony’s pleasant reedy baritone gently beguiling the listener in a journey down the corridor of memory and dreams.

But don’t let that fool you, there’s some strong messages embedded in many of these offerings – a bit of meat on the bone for those who require it in their musical diet.

Many of the stories told on the CD are from Tony’s life in the UK before he emigrated to Australia, notably ‘Portugal Beach, ‘On Days Like This’ and ‘It’s Alright’. The tracks ‘Taken’ and ‘Come Away With Me’ are instantly recognisable from earlier recordings by Touchwood and Ecopella.

My favourite track on the album is his song ‘Portugal Beach’ – almost the archetypal recollection of summer by the sea – and Tony has done a fine job on his reinterpretation of Ian Telfer’s ‘Finisterre’. I also love ‘Elegy/Davey’. The untimely loss of a friend is handled with great sensitivity and respect.

If you’re looking for something very listenable that conceals a steel fist of strong social commentary within its velvety folds, you’ll enjoy this recording.’

Jane Harding, Trad & Now, March 2008

‘What would have happened if Nick Drake had lived? Well, it is not impossible that he might have given up music and moved to Australia in 1995 before returning to performing on the local folk-music circuit. That is a potted history of English folkie and Australian emigre Tony Eardley, whose Desire Lines sounds like he is channelling Drake.

At one point I thought: "He's ripped off Nick Drake completely on this track." Then I realised that he was actually singing his own version of Drake's beautiful Northern Sky. Eardley has Drake's husky intimacy and fragile sensitivity.

Yet, in fairness, Eardley is not Drake. He is a talented singer-songwriter who likes to use jazz-folk arrangements (at various points there is a sensitive enhancement by soprano sax, piano and shakuhachi) and whose natural style is to write songs suffused with mistiness, romanticism and a love of nature.

This is a remarkable album from one of the most talented performers on the Australian folk and festival scene. Listen and be amazed at how rich and intelligent modern folk can be.’

Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 December 2007

‘Tony Eardley is one of the voices in the wacky Spooky Men’s Chorale. Working under his own name he is decidedly more sedate, writing songs of unself-conscious poeticism that slowly draw you into a misty world of sad and finely nuanced observation; songs with lilting melodies delivered by his unassuming, honest voice. He plays attractive acoustic guitar, the accompaniment augmented with a sparsely used cast including violinist Marcus Holden, bassist Liz Frencham and singer Rachel Hore.’

John Shand, Metro, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February 2008

‘Had a less than perfect day? Then you need this album. Feet up, turn off the mobile and the lights, pour a dark brown smooth ale and close your eyes.

You’re listening to your drink, and it’s delivering sheer poetry over a silken soundtrack, more than competently performed by musicians who clearly understand what this man is trying to say, and in the self-penned offerings he’s saying a lot. Don’t miss a word.

Beautifully produced by Marcus Holden whose pedigree and love affair with real music is reflected in this interpretation of songs that exhibit both the lyrical sensitivity of Bernie Parry and the power and passion of Vin Garbutt.

Ballad-laden albums can be melancholy. This one draws you back into the warmth and safety of the womb, unaware of what lies ahead. Therein lies its strength.

Whilst it occasionally borrows from what have curiously come to be considered folk musical styles, folk this isn’t. No endless trite ditties here about the false glory of being hacked down by Napoleon’s soldiers for King and country – thank goodness.  Contemporary and appropriate social comment ooze from this work, and by the outstanding blues-rock ‘Taken’ at track six it should be obvious you are listening to something special. Debut album?  Stretching credibility I’d suggest.

Tony Eardley’s only problem ahead is just how does he follow it up? Hopefully he won’t take too long going about it.
This man’s work against social inequality is a paradox. For sure, poverty and hopelessness that result from ludicrous wealth imbalance are global crimes, but there are other inequities. One of them is artists of this quality having to self-fund. Listen up you suits in major label ivory towers, cut the executive fuel bill and spend some money on people like Tony Eardley instead of the effluent you bribe into mainstream radio!

Amongst the never disappointing output from Australia – and this time featuring a Brit - this is my album of the year. If you don’t add this album to your collection then, plagiarising The Eagles, there’s a hole in your world.’

Geoff Green, Springboard Media UK, January 2008

‘On listening to the long-awaited Tony Eardley CD, Desire Lines, I was both surprised and spell-bound. Surprised: mainly because, as a solo singer, I have sometimes found the words a little hard to understand due to Tony's rather soft voice. Spell-bound: because of the delicious balance in the production between instruments and voice, songs both gentle and powerful, and just generally because of the very poetry in the combination of the words and the music.

In both his own songs and those that he covers, Tony's interpretations are wonderfully complementary and sensitive. The CD's opening track, ‘Before The City Wakes’ is beautifully embellished by Gregg Telian's soprano sax, which adds an eerie atmosphere to the description of a pre-dawn town and the life lead by people with nowhere else to live but on the street. This is in direct contrast to ‘Portugal Beach’, which evokes a feeling of free-living carelessness in the reminiscences on bygone days.

There are some poignant songs such as ‘Footsteps On an Empty Road" and ‘Elegy’ that describe love and loss in their most tragic and powerful moments. The song ‘Blues Run the Game’ is a special favourite of mine. The gentle, rhythmic and easy interpretation make the inherent sadness in the song seem sweet.

The final track, ‘Come Away With Me’, stands out from the others in style and instrumentation. Though it is not perhaps as tuneful as some of the other songs, the similes and metaphors in the poetry are all that is needed to make this a fine piece of music. Other outstanding songs include ‘On Days Like This’ and ‘Water From the Well’.

The help of some other well-known and talented musicians such as Liz Frencham on double bass and Christine Wheeler on low whistle, and the sensitive vocal backing of Rachel Hore and Helen Rowe, make this CD compulsive listening.

This is a CD worthy to be counted as the next in your collection.’

Dawn Davis, Cornstalk Gazette, November 2007

‘I love a new CD, especially one with songs I already know and love. But it’s a risk, that first listen, hoping they haven’t gone wild in the studio, bending songs into unrecognizable shape. Sometimes I listen to a CD once and never again. I first listened to this one four times over, and after a month I still listen to it twice in a row because of its entrancing, evocative sensitivity.

Since starting singing again after a 25-year hiatus, Tony Eardley has crafted a handful of exceptional songs, recorded here for the first time. Some are already performance favourites: the nostalgic reverie of Portugal Beach; the refreshing honesty of Footsteps on an Empty Road; and the astute observation of Before The City Wakes - a tribute to a woman of the streets.

There are a few carefully selected covers, by luminary songwriters Nick Drake, Jackson C Frank, and Ian Telfer. As a mark of a gifted songwriter, these don’t stand out from Tony’s originals. There are also two songs originally composed for other groups: Come Away With Me, a lover’s lament, for Ecopella, and Taken, a powerful call for justice, written for Touchwood.

The standout offering is Water From The Well, an anthem of creative perseverance. Its lyrics deliver a potent wake-up call about living each day to its fullest - an important teaching for all of us who make music as part of a full, fragile life.

Tony’s sometimes reserved vocal delivery has real warmth and brightness of tone in this recording. The arrangements, with musicians all of high calibre, are delightfully tasteful and blend seamlessly - remarkable given the different instruments involved. The whirling & weaving harmonies are particularly poignant and clear (including those of our own Helen Rowe), and there are lots of singalong options for the resolute folkie.

Generally, I recommend seeing a performer live before buying a recording, but in this case the CD’s quality stands alone. I recommend you buy it right now (www.tonyeardley.com) and follow the trajectory of another important artist on our Australian (folk) music desire line.’

Maree Robertson, Tasty Music Australia, Folk Rag (Queensland), November 2007

‘A stormer of an album …CD of the year.’

Paul Cosgrave, Mountain Views internet radio, November 2007

‘I have this thing I call Sunday morning music. It is the type of music that is perfect for a lazy Sunday morning. Gentle, caressing, non-abrasive.  The kind of music that wakes you up gently and soothingly. Pantera would be a fine example of what is NOT Sunday morning music. Tony Eardley’s Desire Lines would be the perfect example of what is. This is a beautiful album, full of beautifully written songs, beautiful arrangements and beautiful lyrics. Tony really is a good songwriter. The music and lyrics work well together to make really emotive and vaguely nostalgic songs. To go along with this the musicianship is warm and gentle. There is nothing abrasive about this album. The themes are generally ones of love and loss and while the mood is quite melancholy, there is a yearning to the songs that stops it from becoming too sombre. It definitely would be too downbeat for a lively shindig, but for Sunday mornings it is perfect. I also like the idea behind the name. Desire lines apparently being the unmapped routes that are the most desirable to walkers. Made me think I should slow down and take more of these routes in my everyday life. Not many people would be disappointed to have this CD in their collection.’

Robyn Jarman, STIX magazine, November 2007

A few others things people have said about Tony's earlier work and performances:

'.outstandingly talented' (Blu-FM radio)

'his songs are lyrical and evocative .. (Portugal Beach) is simply one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard' (Cornstalk Gazette)

' Tony sings about important issues with a quiet intensity . He combines sweet vocal tone, a good feel for tradition and a light hand as a song writer.' (Helen Rowe)

'Tony's songs are graunchingly (sic) beautiful' (Nancy Kerr) - she has a way with words, our Nancy!