Goldmine review by Dennis Semchenko. Rave magazine. Issue 878.

Phil Smith’s bio reads like a classic wanderer’s story: born in Sydney, moved to Darwin for work in his teens, shifted over to Queensland, then decamped to England where he participated in a hip hop (!) project with a Hungarian friend, worked many different jobs, discovered Americana and finally came back to Australia on family matters. Here, he tells us stories from his rich life in a warm, yet weathered and authoritative voice. Upon the first glance, one might think the cd cover says it all: murky public bar interior, a half-empty beer and the man himself assuming a reflective/contemplative pose. However it’s the music and the words that do the talking; opening with the waltz-time, haunting memories-imbued title track, the album’s unhurried pace draws you in. Weeping pedal steel (courtesy of Leigh Ivin) is prominent in the mix, underscoring the meditative Blackbird and the defiant (I’ll Walk The Line) One More Time in fine tradition. Throughout the record Smith is helped out with names such as Bill Chambers (dobro and mandolin on Baby Doll), Women In Doc’s Roz Pappalardo (bringing her distinctive vocals to the Gram Parson’s/ Emmylou Harris-like Where Does It Go?) and Sara Tyndley (backup on Blackbird and One More For The Road), while Brisbane radio identity Natalie Van den Hurk stars on piano. Like any quiet, quality alt-country release, Goldmine is a worthwhile listen that is certain to improve after a few spins.

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