Listening to the new record, Dust Lust, from Australian recording artist Aimee Volkofsky reminded me of the painter Georgia O’Keefe. O’Keefe was famous for painting arid desert landscapes of the American west, and often chronicled so many deeper meanings with rather simple images. I would argue the same thing goes for Volkofsky who uses the dessert terrain of Broken Hill, a small mining town in New South Wales as the dramatic backdrop of her music.
On the opening track, “Buried” Volkofsky wastes no time in getting down to business painting a picture of the harshness of mining country. Here she is telling the tale of the miner with whom she is in love, capturing him with crisp images such as “I wonder if today he’ll die?” And then “there goes my man / lead in his veins / crushed by machines / smothered in slime /buried alive in the deep dark mine.” Not a pretty picture to say the least. And the way Volkofsky delivers her lyrics, with a sharpness and an intenseness, which sounds as though she has been hardened by the land as well.
Next up is “Desert Lady” which is a howling rocker that takes on tones of hard country rock but without all the heavy background noise. The music itself is sometimes as arid as the climate she is describing. There are no harsh echoes or long tones. The guitars are quick and crisp, the drums pound tribally and never resonate past their welcome. It makes for a powerful listening experience and much credit should go to her backing band made up of drummer Josh Lobley, bassist Ethan Leversha and Alexandra Rosenblum providing backing vocals.
There are many songs to celebrate the wide-open spaces and beauty here. “Dust Lust” is a quiet piece of perfection that grabs one right away and doesn’t let go. Next comes the waltzing feel of “Gypsy Woman” which is a haunting and exquisite romp. This is followed up by the poetic piano-laden ballad, “More than a Gold Mine,” a fitting capstone to a very powerful record.
Dust Lust perfectly captures the rough-hewn landscape of small mining town. It renders the harsh lives of its characters with exquisite beauty. It is always refreshing to hear an album so full of emotion that it sticks with you long after its last breaths have echoed from the speakers.
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