Dark Alley Review: Angus Gill “The Scrapbook”

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

✦ The Scrapbook by Angus Gill was #1 on the ARIA Top 20 Australian Country Albums for week of 11 October 2021

Angus Gill

From the first, fast commanding banjo strokes on “Always on the Run”, it is obvious Angus Gill has grown up on this album. Never one to confine himself musically to just one box, the ARIA and Golden Guitar nominee Angus Gill has shed yet another musical skin, checking the boxes on a new song writing journey for his fourth studio album. This time the Wauchope wunderkind has stretched his music talents to create a bluegrass inspired creation that boasts an array of internationally renowned musicians. On this record, Gill makes peace with all his music personalities.

Tell us why you chose the Bluegrass genre.

“I’ve always been a big fan of traditional bluegrass music. From a young age, I’ve been drawn to the high and tight harmonies, vocal stylings, phrasing and virtuosic playing. There’s also this beautiful juxtaposition in some bluegrass music when a poignant lyric is set against a rapid tempo and a major chord structure. I just love that!” said Gill.

Gill’s familiar voice seems to drop right into collaborations with Tim Crouch, Randy Kohrs, Clay Hess and Tony Ray. And not to mention outstanding collaborations with Jim Lauderdale, Jerry Salley, Gary Burr, Thomm Jutz, Rivers Rutherford and Charles Esten (from the hit TV series, Nashville).

You’ve collaborated with some amazing people on this record, tell us about that.

The project came about in late 2020, after the release of the critically acclaimed “3 Minute Movies” featuring Paul Kelly’s band billed as The Seasons of Change. Gill started laying the bed track down for a song Whittling Away, written with multiple Grammy™ winner & bluegrass icon Jim Lauderdalein in 2019. This eventually became the catalyst for a bluegrass record.

“Jim and I wrote Whittling Away in 2019 and I liked it then, but after revisiting it in late 2020, the sentiment of the song hit me even harder than it did when we wrote it. I realised it would work as a duet and Jim agreed to do it with me. I was hearing a slow bluegrass production, so decided to take that approach with this song”, says Gill.

“I remembered I’d written several bluegrass songs over the years, and I also had some straight country songs I’d written, which I realised were better served as bluegrass songs. I’ve always wanted to record a traditional bluegrass album with players that have bluegrass in their blood. I called up Tim Crouch and asked him if he would play and co-produce an album with me and we brought Randy Kohrs, Clay Hess & Tony Way onto the project and recorded it all remotely at the start of 2021. It was pretty cool because it sounds like we were all playing in the same room, despite being over 15,000 kilometres away.”

The album opens with a rollicking homage to hard working women “Always on the Run”, co-written with 2021 Grammy nominee Thomm Jutz. Gill quips, “she’s moving like a bullet that was fired from a gun/she’s always on the run.” It’s fast, it’s furious and the adrenaline pumps up to a pinnacle.

The narrative-based “Samson” has a wonderful message that we cannot always be strong and tough.

The Jim Lauderdale due “Whittling Away” highlights the resilience and strength that people are displaying during these trying times.

Gill’s signature wit comes to the forefront in the swing-grass romp “Caught Between a Rock and a Heartache” which is a wonderful message that highlights love, friendship and heartache.

The challenges of a paternal bond are explored in the heartfelt “Feet of Clay”, co-written with Charles Esten.

“Let’s Have a Drink (To Not Drinking Again)” is the ultimate high-spirited bluegrass drinking song, featuring Music Row veteran tunesmith Jerry Salley. Gill sings of his grandmother’s affection in the autobiographical title track “The Scrapbook”.

After a near 300-bpm sprint in “Heartquake”, the album closes with the exquisite epitaph “Forget Me Not”.

“Our heartstrings will be tied up in a never forget me not” Gill sings a cappella in perfect four part harmony.

Angus Gill’s new album, “The Scrapbook”, is further proof of this artist’s ability to shape-shift into any musical form and do it exceptionally well.