In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “There’s something to Graney’s preacher-esque, charismatic delivery that makes it a gripping epic.”
I think I got pretty lucky that my formative music listening, teenage years coincided with a real peak in local, Australian rock, indie and alternative music. I’m sure everyone thinks that about their own generation, but I genuinely feel like the local music scene was a lot stronger, more varied and more original then than it is now. I’m also aware that most people reach a certain age where they think this kind of thing was a lot better, “back in my day”. But how could you argue with the greatness of a time when the national youth radio station could swing from the punk, hip hop, techno, metal collision of Regurgitator, to the sampled dance perfection of The Avalanches, to the serious art wankery of Nick Cave, and a million other places in between?
Not to mention one man out of time, ironically donning leisure suits before delivering his mash up of country crooning, sexy soul, perfect pop and intellectual meditations, wrapped up in a throwback to everything cool about every genre to have come before him. In a time of great variety and individualism in Aussie music, Dave Graney stood out as even more varied and individual than the rest. And possibly his most defining album of that period was Night of the Wolverine.
Making cowboy guitar twangs sound more inner city and metropolitan than you’d think possible, You’re Just Too Hip, Baby is the perfect delivery system for Graney’s patented detached, ambivalent cool. Mogambo on the other hand proves that he’s not above a little sincerity and sentimentality. A light acoustic guitar and pretty piano dominate a light and pretty song.
Part spoken word, part mood piece, Night of the Wolverine 1 sounds like the stream of consciousness ponderings of someone on a laid back trip where coming up with big questions is way more rewarding than any of the answers could ever be. Drummer Clare Moore’s voice is brought into the fold as the perfect counterpart for Graney’s smooth croon on I Held the Cool Breeze for a song that sounds exactly like its title.
With its banjo, fiddle and leisurely groove, Three Dead Passengers in a Stolen Second Hand Ford is the kind of thing that would be a massive hit for one of the many interchangeable folk bands / moustache aficionados who appropriated this kind of sound 20 years after ol’ Dave did it right here on Night of the Wolverine.
The haunting, noir darkness of You Need to Suffer sounds like it could be used in the opening credits of any premium cable dark, drama. At over eight minutes and melodically repetitive, you’d think that Night of the Wolverine 2 would drag and become grating. But there’s something to Graney’s preacher-esque, charismatic delivery that makes it a gripping epic. Which is Night of the Wolverine in a microcosm. The song writing is fantastic, but with a front man as engaging as Dave Graney, great song writing is just an added bonus.