OUT ON LAUGHING OUTLAW RECORDS
Over the years Mark Moldre has played music in a variety of settings. He’s suited up to sing Chet Baker styled standards in jazz quartets. He’s donned white pants and bad floral shirts to play in traditional Jamaican calypso bands. Late at night you may have caught him in purple flares and star shaped sunglasses in a variety of psychedelic 70’s funk outfits. He’s been a gun for hire in blues, indie rock and country bands.
Yet on previous occasions when the time came for starting an album he would brush all those styles under the rug in favour of writing more standard singer/songwriter type songs. “On An Ear To The Earth I hoped to make a completely different recording – a more eclectic one – I didn’t want to make any of my usual choices. This time I wanted to exit the highway and explore the lanes, alleyways and side streets of my musical history” says Moldre “I’ve always buried those sides of my past when the time came to make a record. This time I wanted to find a way to bring those elements out rather than hide them. I also decided that I would not write any songs about my feelings or myself. No heart on my sleeve stuff. No confessionals. No crying in my gin. I wanted to collaborate more. I’d fallen into musical habits. I needed to break all my unnecessary self imposed rules.”
Mark started to write – finding inspiration in a newspaper headline for the song “I Don’t Know What’s Become Of Her”. “Madeleine” was inspired by the Hitchcock movie Vertigo. “Everything I Need” was conjured after an unsettling dream. “O, Dreamtime Blues” practically spouted from his pen after finishing Paul Kelly’s brilliant autobiography. “Nowhere at All” was written after a late night session reading up on Hermann Hesse and “Where Will I Be?” evolved after watching a scene in the movie Big Fish wherein 3 boys witness their future demise in the eye of an old woman.
As the songs began to take shape – Moldre started to incorporate parts of his musical background that previously he’d pushed aside. A jump up, percussion driven calypso, a riotous Dixie romp, a late night Mexican infused jazz ballad, a couple of old fashioned holler and stomp blues tunes, even European and Country waltzes. “I needed to shake things up and I needed someone who could pull all these diverse threads into a cohesive album. I called my old childhood friend Jamie Hutchings (Bluebottle Kiss) and asked if he’d be interested in listening to my demos with the idea that he would produce. Things clicked, rehearsals began and Jamie beat the arrangements into shape with his familiar spit, grit and sandpaper approach…. and we co-wrote a couple of tunes”
Hutchings decided that the best way to capture these songs was live, with a band, – straight to 1” reel to reel tape. Not a computer in sight. So he called up engineer Chris Colquhoun and scavenged, borrowed and begged for as much gear as would fit into a couple of station wagons and set up shop in a small guest house in the beautiful beach hamlet of Avalon over a period of six days.
An Ear To The Earth is filled with dark corners, tender romance, redemption and death, human struggle versus biblical consequences, dreams and bad weather. It’s gritty and smooth, poignant whilst occasionally raucous, diverse – and yet somehow it all hangs together. It’s Moldre’s musical history across 10 varying chapters.
Find out why Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst chose Mark in his Top Ten creative Sydney-ites for the VIVID festival and was moved to say (about Moldre’s last solo album The Waiting Room): “A beautifully produced album of melancholic melodies; sad, grand, scary. 4 stars.”
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: CD OF THE WEEK ”This is music to drink to. Not to get drunk to, but to have on while you’re gabbing with your mates, while you’re sitting watching your kids play in the shallows and maybe even while knitting in the lodge. There’s a loose, almost ramshackle element to it, as if you’ve popped around the back to find a pick-up band rattling through some old country/folk/blues numbers for fun. Imagine a less garrulous and noisy Tom Waits (for example the New orleans brass and clarinet in Everything I Need Is Here) a late-night Ryan Adams (the droopy eyed Dreamtime Blues) and a kind of Sydney Willie Nelson (I Don’t Know What’s Become Of Her) and you’ll have a sense of the relaxed but never actually soft atmosphere here.” Bernard Zuel
"Mark Moldre’s second album has you thinking he could be an Aussie version of Tom Waits. But he’s a sweeter singer." ★ ★ ★ ★ STACK MAGAZINE
"Moldre, a gifted lyricist and melody-maker, manages to piece together different styles, both coherently and beautifully" ★ ★ ★ ★ ALT MEDIA GROUP
"An Ear To The Earth is exactly what you want from an artist – a record that shows they’re stretching themselves, expanding their art and reverentially experimenting with the great art of songwriting." DRUM MEDIA
MESS AND NOISE: “Quixotic and genre defying”
THEMUSIC.COM.AU: “Stepping way out of his comfort zone, singer-songwriter Mark Moldre delivers an album Nick Cave would be proud of” Michael Smith
INPRESS: “An Ear To The Earth is one of 2013′s tastiest trips, taking the listener on a rollicking, rootsy journey. One minute, it rumbles; the next, it’s gentle and poignant.”
TIME OFF: “His 2010 solo debut The Waiting Room earned serious plaudits, and after a lengthy gestation period his new follow-up, An Ear To The Earth, has already proved a more-than-worthy successor. Possessing a vastly different tone to it’s predecessor, the album’s folk-tinged indie stylings are characterised by watertight songwriting, deft imagery and imaginative arrangements, and it has a far coarser feel overall than his previous fare” Steve Bell
released May 28, 2013
Produced by Jamie Hutchings
Engineered by Chris Colquhoun
Mixed by Chris Colquhoun and Jamie Hutchings
This long player was recorded direct to reel-to-reel tape, live – the old fashioned way – at a small guesthouse at Avalon. (Thanks to the Mort family for the use of their space). Tape transfer was accomplished at Linear Recording.
Mark Moldre: Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, Nylon String Guitar, Banjo, Melodica, Stomps, Claps
Jamie Hutchings: Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Percussion, Backing Vocals, Stomps, Claps
Scott Hutchings: Drums, Percussion, Stomps, Group Vocals, Claps
Reuben Wills: Double Bass, Group Vocals, Musical Saw, Stomps, Claps
Adam Lang: Banjo, Lap Slide, Pedal Steel, Stomps, Claps
Lee Hutchings: Clarinet
Jochen Gutsch: Trumpet
Gregory Bennett: Tuba, Trombone
All songs written by Mark Moldre except
I Don’t Know What’s Become Of Her (Moldre/J. Hutchings)
Arrangement assistance by Jamie Hutchings
Artwork and layout by Brett Curzon
Mastered by Roger Seibel at SAE Mastering, Phoenix AZ USA
Massive thanks to the following, without whom none of this would have been possible: Jo, Bronte, Chet & Billie for letting me off the leash, Mum and Dad, Lee and Aunty Fran for the rehearsal space, Chris C and Jamie for going the extra mile, Stuart Coupe, Macron Music and the lads, the Mort family, Shane Pex + Brad Baldock + Dave Dalton for the loaners, Brett Curzon for all your art assistance over the years, Swart Amps, The Guitar Repairers, timEbandit Powles and Michael Carpenter for unwavering faith/support /love. Reuben, Adam, Scott, Lee, Jochen and Gregory for dropping whatever they were doing and picking up their instruments.