“Sunnyholt”  3 ½ Stars

Perry Keyes has carved an impressive niche in the rock landscape with songs that mourn and celebrate in equal measure the history and culture of the neighbourhood in which he grew up,  Sydney’s Redfern, Waterloo and surrounding suburbs.  This latest album, his fourth and the first part of a two-album series, takes that principle a step further with 10 songs that document, poetically and with a mixture of passion, humour and nostalgia, how those same suburbs evolved in the 1960’s and 70’s, when much of the population moved west to accommodate inner-city development.  Musically Keye’s previous albums such as “Meter ” and “The Last Ghost Train Home” switch between atmospheric folk to all-out rock ’n’ roll, a style that has seen the name Springsteen mentioned in his wake.  Certainly his vivid descriptions of working-class life are from the same well, but Keyes sings from his own heart and is joined here most impressively by singer Bek-Jean Stewart on the despairing Shitville.  There’s more than a touch of Lou Reed in the strings-laden title track, a somber ballad documenting the contrasting cultures on the streets he knows: “The inner city’s fine if you can spend your time on 10 types of coffee and low-fat food”.  The opening of The Soft Blue Sky, a sea shanty tune topped by horns, also looks back at better times, while Brylcreem Alcohol and Pills is biting and nostalgic.  Sunnyholt is singular in its vision.  Maybe part two will broaden the palette.

Weekend Australian 14-15 Feb 2015 – Iain Shedden