Reviews of Noel's first CD, Justice and Pride
For many years folk singer Noel Gardner has been at the forefront of issues on the Sunshine Coast environmental and social expressing through his music the cry for preservation and understanding. Mt Coolum, Fraser Island, and Aboriginal Land Rights are just some of the (topics of the) tunes which at last he has recorded on Justice and Pride, although this collection also includes some rather beautiful songs on life and love (as well). Noel’s material is in part reminiscent of Shane Howard, but he draws on a variety of influences in his work which include folk, country…. and blues music. Noel Gardner is a songwriter who expresses heartfelt issues though his music, and succeeds in reaching his audience.
The title gives it away really. Justice and Pride is an album about human rights, reconciliation, aboriginal mythology, conservation, manhood, and, just when you think it’s all a bit serious and earnest, hope and a bit of fun. The order of the title’s words is significant too it’s Justice and Pride, not Pride and Justice, which reminds us subtly that true pride comes from having something to be proud of in the first place, like justice.
….Noel Gardner is an unassuming man passionately concerned about his habitat he genuinely cares about the land, and its inhabitants, original and immigrant. …(he) speaks and sings softly but don’t let that fool you this is a man with important things to say.
This 13 track solo debut by Sunshine Coast performer Noel Gardner is a welcome contribution to Australia folk music. Gardner’s lyrics pull no punches, while his music blends a variety of folk styles and reflects collabaration with a wide range of performers in and around the Brisbane folk scene.
Gardners title track 'Justice and Pride' is about the land rights struggle of Murri people from around Goondiwindi in south Queensland. The track also captures the musical flavour of the CD, with clay pots, the harmonica and violin accompanying Gardner’s acoustic guitar.
'Fraser' and 'Mt Coolum' describe the natural beauty of two places which are sacred to Aboriginal people. These songs, as well as 'Sunrise' and 'Rainbow Man' catch a feel for the Aboriginal Dreamtime and the scars on the land produced by mining companies and corporate greed. In 'Mt Coolum' Gardner describes a wonder that defies a conquered landscape.
This song draws on a medley of different sounds: didgeridoo by Mark Gillet, mandolin by Steve Cook, dobro by Dave Burrows and congas by Peter Hudson. 'Sunrise' maintains a bouncy rhythm with a combination of didgeridoo and boomerangs.
'Profit and Illusion' brings back memories of Redgum, with it’s punchy lyrics and jovial style. '...havens of dollars, fistfuls of crime / you take from the country, you take what’s mine...' ring from the chorus.
A highlight of this CD, and the only song not written by Gardner. is 'Everyman' by Fred Small. Gardner’s version is excellent and brings new life to the song with a message that challenges domestic violence, homophobia, war and male chauvinism.