Steel & Bone

by Bill Jackson

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    On the back of a big festival season and hot on the heels of the widely acclaimed ‘Diggin’ the Roots’ (2006), Soundvault Records and Bill Jackson are proud to announce the release of his new album ‘Steel + Bone’ – launched at the 2008 Port Fairy Folk Festival.
    ‘Bill Jackson plays solid Aussie roots-rock with a universal country flavor - the sort of country that might appeal to people who automatically say they hate country without ever truly listening to it’ (Jeff Glorfeld – The Age)‘Take a chance and hear some genuine ground breaking roots influenced music that cuts across borders’ Keith Glass)
    Jackson has been invited to showcase at the Roots Music Association Radio and Music Conference in San Antonio (Texas) in late June, 2008 and has built this into a US mini tour which will also see him play Nashville, Dallas, Austin and Los Angeles, as well as co-writing sessions with US songwriters and TV appearances in Nashville and Los Angeles. He will be accompanied on this tour by Peter Fidler (Dobro, Lap Steel, Mandolin) and Ruth Hazleton (Clawhammer Banjo, Guitar, Vocals) who feature heavily on the new release. Steel + Bone was again produced by Marcel Yammouni and has Jackson returning to his roots and exploring lyrics that cut through love, war and passion.

    Here is a brief rundown of the ‘Steel and Bone’ tracks by Jackson himself:

    1. Red Sandy Bed (3.58)
    A song written by a friend of mine, Peter Cole, a very well known artist/sculptor in Australia. A song about the feelings you have when you ‘run away’ from a bad relationship and seek total solace in the desert only to be haunted by that desolation and beauty
    2. John Lee Hooker (4.41)
    Co-written with the same Peter Cole – pays homage to one of the greats. He may be gone but his legacy never will be
    3. Bring ‘Em On Home (5.53)
    Co-written with my brother Ross Jackson (an ex Vietnam Vet). A call to stop the madness and bring the boys and girls home from a fight that does not exist.
    4. Long Way from Water (5.03)
    Autobiographical song which takes an honest look at my childhood, growing up in a small country town in Gippsland.



    5. You Evil Bitch Morphine (4.08)
    A song about addiction to a drug which is designed to ease the pain only to inflict more. Written with my brother Ross Jackson…
    ‘I got a window full of setting sun – one more shit day gone…’
    6. So Long (4.22)
    Three seemingly unrelated verses that hang together with the chorus – one of Bill’s ‘live’ favourites. You have to listen as the explanation is born out in the lyric – about love. power and music.
    7. Old Fashioned Gal (6.09)
    Written for a friend of mine who rescued me at a time when I was as about as low as I could get.
    8. Tex (5.10)
    Modern Gunfighter Ballad with a lesson to be learned – cattle, gambling, women and fate.
    9. The Passion (5.10)
    A song about four close friends of mine with one thing in common – passion for their life and art
    10. God Botherin’ Blues #7 (4.17)
    Tongue in cheek look at those Sunday morning door knockers. This time they knock on the door of the devil himself and the sermon is in the other direction.
    11. Bobby Crockett’s Island (4.08)
    Written with my brother Ross Jackson this is a crowd favourite – tells the true story of a young boy who goes off to Vietnam on a ‘blind adventure’ – will we ever learn?

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about

Steel and Bone Review (August 2008)
Puremusic (Michael Hansen)
Bill Jackson recalls nodding acquaintances with Willis Alan Ramsay and Don Schlitz in down but not quite out Nashville writers' dives more years ago than he cares to remember. In Austin he frequented the Armadillo World Headquarters in the wake of Commander Cody and in London he froze his ass outside The Troubadour. All that time accumulating scraps of lyrics and melodies, honing his instrumental skills and preserving a voice that reeks of authenticity.

While doing the hard yards adds value to a performer's arsenal, it doesn't always ensure quality, but with "Steel And Bone" Bill Jackson delivers the goods in abundance. Acoustic Orchestra touring cohorts Pete Fidler on dobro and lap steel, and Ruth Hazleton on clawhammer banjo and vocals, supplemented by the guitars and keys of producer Marcel Yammounni, push Jackson to strip away pretence, resulting in a starkly atmospheric, lyrically rich and musically compelling recording.

Jackson's songs on Steel & Bone are replete with tales of broken dreams and lost souls inhabiting a world of profound sadness and resignation. But there is no shoe-gazing despondency here. These are inherently hopeful messages delivered with the wisdom of experience and an eye on the future.

A dobro punctuated country shuffle ushers in the opener "Red Sandy Bed," where the landscape is bleak and unforgiving:

"At night we lay there just dreaming and we sang like a hillbilly choir
Come morning that's whare you'll find us, coaxing some heat from the fire"

There is little respite from loneliness and alienation, the desert a cruel mistress, "but nothing seems worse than the cold and the hurt, and the heartbreak I left back at home."

"Bring 'Em On Home" is an anthem to the seemingly disposable, marginalised sectors of our societies that generations have dispatched to faraway places to protect the interests of the secure and privileged. Jackson adds an Australian voice to the remonstrations of McMurtry, Earle, Mellencamp, and LaFave.

A tale of the lost, lonely and confused, "Long Way From Water" is a highlight. Jackson's protagonists are adrift and homeless, and his search for an emotional landfall intensifies amid swelling lap slide, ominous electric guitar and driving percussion. The chorus brings a mantra-like quality to the song, underscoring a desperate search for comfort and direction.

"Steel & Bone" places Bill Jackson firmly in the ranks of significant artists. Insightful lyrics and an understanding of the emotional train wrecks that loom large in the lives of ordinary folks are balanced by a fundamental tenderness and empathy. One listen to the lovely "Old Fashioned Gal" is proof enough that here we have a set of finely crafted songs that are engaging, plainspoken and articulate.

credits

released January 2, 2008

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Bill Jackson Melbourne, Australia

' Take a chance and listen to some Roots Music that cuts across Borders...' (Keith Glass)

‘We heard Bill Jackson for the first time at the Unpaved Sessions earlier in the year and he’s up there with Paul Kelly’ (The Melbourne Folk Club)
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