Sunday, 15 September 2019

Standing Strong: Mudburra Man - Music Review

What: Standing Strong: Mudburra Man Album Launch
When: 15 September 2019
Where: fortyfivedownstairs
Featuring: Ray Dimakarri Dixon

Moira Finucane, Mama Alto, Ray Dimakarri Dixon and Pierra Dennerstein - photo by Jodie Hutchinson
Last night, riding on the waves of Finucane and Smith's extraordinary show The Rapture Chapter II: Art vs Extinction, Ray Dimakarri Dixon launched his new album Standing Strong: Mudburra Man. The album is a collection of 8 wonderfully arranged and produced songs speaking to the struggles the Mudburra people are dealing with in the Northern Territory. It is a love song, a dirge, a call to arms. Most of all it is a collection of sublime beauty.

Standing Strong is the result of a year long collaboration with Finucane and Smith. Whilst working on another project, Moira Finucane met Eleanor Dixon who them went on to introduce her to her father Ray. Father and daughter have been performing together for years as the group Rayella but when Finucane heard him sing 'Goodby Song' in his language her world changed and she pledged to help him produce Standing Strong - not quite realising just how much work was involved...

At the same time Finucane and Smith were developing The Rapture Chapter II and they realised Ray Dixon's passion in fighting fracking in the Northern Territory and working to save his language which is only spoken by 50 people now were all a part of the picture they were trying to show. Dixon's seminal song 'Nkgurra Marla' (meaning protector of home) became a centerpiece of the cabaret as well as being the perfect springboard to getting Dixon's music and message out into the world.

At it's simplest, Dixon's deep and sonorous voice, accompanied by an acoustic guitar are enough to cause your heart to resonate with the rhythms of Australia. When you add in the incredible talents of the 20 amazing artists who have collaborated to create this album, the music ascends to the sound of a people and planet crying out to be heard.

Collaborators of this album include: 
Ed Bates - pedal steel (Mudburra Man)
Joe Camilleri - saxophone, pedal steel arrangement (Mudburra Man)
Clare St Clare - backing vocals
Aidan Fergusson - electric guitar
Ben Keene - bass, percussion, string arrangements
Mama Alto - backing vocals
John McAll - piano, organ, melodica  & percussion
Darrin Verhagen - cello, flute, keyboard, arrangements

At the launch we had the pleasure of hearing several songs from the album including 'Yulu Wumara' and the stoic title song 'Barlawa Kurdij Karrdi'. 'Yulu Wumara' (Fracking Song) speaks to the truth that 85% of the Northern Territory is currently holds a fracking license or is under application for one. Extinction is in progress and through music Dixon is doing something about it.

The launch ended with Dixon performing the song which changed Finucane's world. Swaying to the mournful tune of 'Goodby Song' I felt my world change too.

The album is sung in a combination of Mudburra and English. For me there is always something magical hearing people sing in their own language. There is a fullness and gentleness and nuance which cannot be replicated. Dixon's Mudburra words speak to your heart even if you don't understand everything he says.

You can purchase a copy of the CD through music@moirafinucane More information HERE

4.5 Stars

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