Songwriting is variously described as channeling one’s muse, a vehicle for the subconscious and the manifestation of an artist’s wild imagination. For Mark Moldre (NSW, Australia) it’s all that and more on his richly vivid and varied new album, Fever Dreams.
This is Moldre’s third solo album and the follow-up to his 2013 release – An Ear To The Earth. Moldre returned to the studio with the very same line-up and walked out with an album that captures the same sense of magic and mayhem, this time woven into a looser rock ’n’ roll aesthetic.
“I knew that I wanted it to be a louder album than my previous records. I wanted to capture what the band can do onstage when all cylinders are firing. A little more avant garde and left of centre than before, with more room for band members to improvise and be themselves.”
Produced by Jamie Hutchings (Bluebottle Kiss/Infinity Broke/The Tall Grass) and recorded live and straight to 1” tape, Fever Dreams contains some genre-hopping sonic bedlam, fractured Americana-hued ballads, jazz-tinged standards, old-school Jungle Book style reggae and ramshackle/rollicking noir blues.
The fingerprints of Dylan, Waits and Chet Baker are buried deep in the DNA of Fever Dreams. From the gently undulating desert sounds of ‘Josephine’ to the raised-glass sway of ‘White Lightning’, the swagger and rockabilly of ‘Leave Me Where You Found Me’ and the gloriously cosmic and eclectic junk-shop jazz of ‘Full Moon Over Luna Park’, the album is defined by the range of its artistic vision.
Lyrically, Moldre’s poetry blurs the lines between bad dreams, things that go bump in the night, claustrophobia, conspiracy theorists, modern-day anxiety and twisted tales set in ever-shifting Australian landscapes. His impressionistic tales are perfectly complemented by his accomplished, tough and tender guitar playing that draws on both traditional and more exploratory forms of folk, jazz, and blues.
“Anxiety seems to have become the buzz word of humanity. Each song seems to tell a story of characters dealing with uncertainty, anxiety, stress, mental health issues, sleepless nights and loss. Without going into specifics – I’ve certainly had a difficult few years, with my fair share of waking up in a cold sweat. I worked hard though to write stories from the point of view of a series of outsiders, short vignettes into the lives of others – rather than stories of me.”
Carousing, shaping and ushering Moldre’s songs into the world was a group effort by a stellar set of friends and musicians in Jamie Hutchings (guitar), Reuben Wills (bass), Scott Hutchings (drums) and Adam Lang (lap slide, banjo) plus guests Tim Byron (Hammond organ), Lee Hutchings (saxophone) and Jadey O’Regan (piano). “We’ve played together long enough now that we’ve really found our sonic space. The band almost creates its own genre somehow. We can play calypsos, country waltzes, 50’s style standards, rock, blues, reggae, ballads and folk yet pull it altogether into a sound,” marvels Moldre.
An overwhelmingly successful Pozible campaign has demonstrated the level of support and respect Moldre receives from fans of his music. As a result, Fever Dreams has been pressed on hi-fidelity vinyl, which in turn gives listeners the opportunity to fully appreciate the exceptional cover art painted by French-Canadian luthier/artist Lenny Piroth-Robert of Daddy Mojo Guitars.
Over his career, Moldre has opened for artists such as The Church, The Backsliders, The Break, Jim Moginie, Tex Perkins, Steve Kilbey and many more. He’s played festivals such as Dashville Skyline and The National Folk Festival. A recent highlight was taking his complete band line-up to France in July 2018 for a series of successful shows at the Binic Folks Blues Festival (tour diary).
Previous solo releases: The Waiting Room, Troubled Genius (EP), This Romantic Day (EP) and An Ear To The Earth.