Perry Keyes’ fourth album Sunnyholt – the first of a two album series with part 2, Great Western Highway (yet to be released) – is both the largely untold, widescreen story of Sydney’s western suburbs diaspora and, more importantly, the personal tale of a family disintegrating under social and economic pressures.
In the 60s and 70s over 150,000 people were moved to western Sydney – to Green Valley near Liverpool and the satellite suburbs surrounding Blacktown and Campbelltown – Shalvey, Bidwell, St Marys, Blackett; Minto, Claymore, Airds and Macquarie Fields.
They were poor then – lacking infrastructure and government support.
They are poor now – populations of young families surviving on the city’s fringe.
Many initially came from the inner city suburbs of Redfern, Glebe, Alexandria and Waterloo as the ‘slums’ were cleared for high rise and medium density housing.
Among those moved west were members of Keyes’ extended family – aunts, uncles and cousins. Many were promised jobs that never eventuated. Being on the dole became a way to survive. Generational welfare became a way of life.
The consequences of that way of life have often proved brutal and unforgiving.
Sunnyholt is about songs delivered in a passionate manner from compassionate perspectives. They are songs that are telling without ever being didactic; heartbreaking without ever being sentimental.
Where Keyes’ second album, The Last Ghost Train Home left off, Sunnyholt continues, telling the journey of many, while focusing on a single family who fell through the cracks.
It is uncompromising, bruising and tender. And it won’t be forgotten any time soon.
All songs written by Perry Keyes
Perry Keyes – vocals and guitar
John Gauci – piano, Hammond organ & accordion
Matt Galvin – guitar
Ed Kairouz – guitar and mandolin
Grant Shanahan – bass and vocals
Lloyd Gyi – drums and percussion
Peter Kelly – coronet and trumpet
Bek-Jean Stewart – vocals on track 7 and 9
Loene Carmen – vocals on track 10
Susannah Clark – violin
Ezmi Pepper – cello
Mike Rix – double bass
Martin Taylor – trombone
Tom McElvogue – trumpet
Russell Crawford – drums on track 1 and 3
Produced by Grant Shanahan
Recorded at Leisure Suit Studios, Spencer NSW
Engineered by Grant Shanahan
Mixed by Mark Howard
Mastered by William Bowden
Additional recording at Zen Studios by Geoff Lee
Photography and design by Johnny Barker
Artwork by Leah Horsley
All songs published by OdFellows Music Publishing through Sony ATV Music Publishing