Album Review – EVEN – Satin Returns (EL RENO)
Review by Geoff Jenke
Ash Naylor quotes used with permission of Chris Hext from Radio 3MDR.
The first thing that strikes you about the CD is the cover. A photo of the band in vivid pink/purple shade, it is simply amazing. I can’t wait till the L.P version of the album is released. When I was younger, I use to buy albums like this because the cover looked cool, not knowing who or what the band was about. I bought a lot of dud albums doing this but if I had bought this album, I would have been extremely happy with the result.
Satin Returns is Even’s seventh album and its been seven years since their previous album, In Another Time. As Ash said “It’s a case of life is busy. Life before art and they feed off each other”. Recording started for this album January 2014 and it has slowly been pieced together since. A few tracks have sneaked out via live shows and singles over the years but we now have the complete package and it has been worth the wait.
The album according to Ash is “a cross with the lushness of A Different High with the immediacy of Less is More”. I can’t argue with that.
The first track on the album, ironically called The Opener, started off with the intention of it being an instrumental, before minimal vocals were added. The punchy guitar opening sets the scene for not only this track but for the rest of the album. Off to a great start.
Victoria was released 2017 as a single and shows the lushness Ash was referring to. A catchy rolling number that grabs your attention. Pretender is pure classic Even. Ash also described the albums as “It’s the sound of bass, drums and guitar” and this song is a perfect example of this. In fact, there are no session musicians on this album, just Wally, Matt and Ash.
Little Piece was released in 2016 as a single and fits the Even sound with jangly, almost Byrds like guitar and Matt’s steady effective beat. The Owl and the Lark didn’t grab me at first but after a few listens it has grown on me with its tripyness (Ok so there is no such word but it describes the song nicely).
Out of the Woods (no, not a cover of the Taylor Swift song) has been around awhile in Even’s live set and over time sounded better every time I heard it. This song rocks (and rolls) and while it could have come from the 1990’s, it sounds fresh and invigorating in today’s music climate.
Falling Down is pure guitar heaven. Matt and Wally pack a punch behind Ash’s raunchy guitar. This song will remain in Even’s live set for years to come, one feels. The song “ends” at the 3.30 mark, but then the band fire up again in an almost blues feel. Reminds me a little of Creedence’s song Ramble Tamble.
Jet Black is a standard rock song, nothing more, nothing less. It is not out of place on the album, it’s just not as good as the other songs on the album.
Indian Ocean is a joy to behold with it’s beautiful melody and lyrics. Merimbula apparently started life as an instrumental around a campfire out of Merimbula, New South Wales. Words came, lots of them, which is unusual for Ash who admits he “usually only writes two verses and a chorus”. The song drives along nicely, with Ash’s guitar taking Wally’s bass and Matt’s drumming along for the ride.
Return to Stardust is the piece de resistance of the album. Ash played it at his solo gig in Adelaide recently and after hearing it for the first time, my thought was “can’t wait till I hear the band play it”. I was right, the band take it to a whole new level. There are shades of Pink Floyd throughout the song (think Comfortably Numb) as it meanders wonderfully to the conclusion. After the song was originally recorded, Wally suggested Ash add a guitar solo to the song. The song went from 4 minutes to 9 minutes plus. It went from another song on the album to a piece of magnificence. Thanks Wally.
Ash summed the album up as “Punchy but lush” and he is right. Ash maybe the writer of all the songs but this is a complete band effort. The songs just wouldn’t be the same without Wally and Matt.
Great photo inside the back cover of the booklet too.
Ash recently said he wouldn’t mind doing a double album one day. Maybe for Even’s next album? How cool would that be. Let’s hope we just don’t have to wait seven years again.
Even support Tumbleweed at the Gov in Adelaide on Friday 27th July. They will be touring the new album around Australia later this year.
For now, get yourself a copy of this album. It is well worth the effort and not just because of the great cover. Order the CD/download or vinyl here. https://even.bandcamp.com/album/satin-returns