Robbie Greig’s gift for storytelling has seen him become a mainstay of the Australian music scene. He started performing in Melbourne coffee shops back in the 70s, then developed a signature reggae/rock sound that he took on the road with bands, Spiritz and Paleface. He then turned his focus to acoustic music, working on various jazz and folk/rock projects in the decades since. His songwriting has received accolades from an array of Australian music institutions and radio stations and has been featured in various films, compilation albums, and theater productions.
We dove into his album, Gravity, a couple of years ago and were delighted with its “relatable stories, masterful instrumentation choices and productions”. Now, Greig returns with his eleventh studio album, Thunder From a Clear Sky. As he tells us, it’s a collection of songs that were assembled throughout successive lockdowns and they “reflect different moods and responses to the strange scenario of our Covid times”. Fittingly, most of the musical accompaniment heard on this record was recorded remotely in the studios of Dan Harvey (drums), Jon Zwart (bass guitar), Andrew Darling (trumpet), and Matthew Arnold (violin).
Razorback Ridge is a charming folk-rock track that tells the tale of a harmonica-playing lady of old who used to wander the terrain and play music to the trees and the birds. The arrangement has a suitably laidback, rootsy feel, coating the lyric in a smoky nostalgia. The last verse is beautifully written, suggesting that her spirit can still be felt by those who walk that same land today.
Greig unleashes some beautiful lead guitar playing during the introduction to The Long Way Home amidst the sampled sound of driving rain. It’s a downbeat number that sits in a minor key tonality and offers a nice, soothing perspective on the fast-paced lives that we live in the modern era. The song features only one verse before Greig plays an extended solo to finish the song… “I’m only moving a step at a time / I’m trying to slow myself down / Tasting the moment and reading the signs / Sorting through the lost and found”.
A bluesy chord progression outlines the tense, disapproving commentary of Business As Usual, where Greig’s clever lyricism takes aim at consumerism, politicians, and the 1%. Greig points out the irony of climate change alarmism in the face of corporate inaction and speaks of how we’re programmed to support these big, corporate polluters by buying everything they put in front of us… “Eternal growth is just a fairytale, our appetites are bottomless / You’ve got your Wall Street brokers working overtime to fill the pockets of the super rich / You’ve got your ad men doing everything it takes to sell you things you don’t even need”.
The closing track Yet Another Day in Iso sums up the monotonous holding pattern that we all found ourselves in during the height of the pandemic, and Greig cleverly echoes this sentiment by writing the song over a single static chord. The track has the same, bluesy sound that characterizes much of the record but the production leans a little modern with its use of synthesizers and digital drum samples.
There truly is something for everyone in Robbie Greig’s catalog of music and Thunder From a Clear Sky is certainly no exception. Greig sings with the wise, weathered quality of a man who has seen it all and it’s voices like his that we need in these ever-strange times we find ourselves in.
BELOW: Listen to Thunder From a Clear Sky and connect with his website and social media platforms. Please support Robbie Greig by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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