Now you have it... your own Talisman to guard you and bring you good things in life. And for good measure you have something to listen to on your journey, as you navigate your life’s pathway.
Gus explains his journey with the album: “Recorded over 7 months from February to July 2016 and mostly recorded in a live situation, songs were arranged with added horn and string sections – and a few other, added surprises. The magic happened in a converted 1950’s service station in the hills of Perth, West Australia – and mastered at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios, London.”
Described as ‘Australicana’ by one one reviewer, ‘Talisman’ has ten new songs, featuring strings, horns and an eclectic list of instrumentation. The result is still McKay’s roots-blues infused music, but with a new alt/jazz flavour, building a future style, for upcoming releases. ‘Talisman’ still has that dusty backdrop, and the familiar sparse sound, an uncluttered soundscape. Guitar fans will be amazed at the sound that Gus coaxes from his many fine guitars, including Teles and Strats as well as a 1940’s Dobro and an Australian ‘Galvo’ tricone resonator made from 100 year old galvanized roof tin/iron.
“It is ten, new, original songs wide and expansive, shimmering like the midday sun on the rolling plains”, Gus goes on. “A hot lazy wind…blows across the burnt Sienna. Old rusty car gives some evidence of life. Glass bottles that have turned to a faded blue, like the stone washed sky. These elements are the things the songs are built upon. These are the accents. Tunes about dancing or drinking beer in the early morning. Working hard on the plough…wondering when it will all end… or fossiking for buried treasure in a Shire with no town. And a random rural salesman who dressed up too much”.
‘Talisman’ is a fascinating spin start to finish. In some ways, the lead off track ‘Art Of Living’ perfectly captures Gus’s sound. In his interview with US site mwe3.com, Gus says the track is about “Getting closer to the ideal, of getting through this life with purpose and dignity and still be inspired” Songs about and dignity are at the core of ‘Talisman’, which also has a deep connection to life in Australia. A sense of sparseness also permeates and the album is a very scenic sonic postcard from that country.
His earthy style of music has a sage-like bonhomie, while his undeniable roots lie in the land, and nature. A farmer and stockman most of his life, but now a fulltime musician, he's now devoting his time promoting and producing his music, more recently having 450,000 plays on one streaming site alone. Inspiration flows constantly, as Gus bases himself in the country, finding solace on the road and peace in the bush. Weekends are spent away, playing music in the city. His music is self-funded and produced and released on his own RPM (Rollin' Plains Media) label. Gus is a successful songwriter and musician and after almost 20 years, is a seasoned recording artist and performer / producer.
Gus’ musical influences are many and varied. Artists he cites as inspiration are the likes of; Chris Whitley, David Crosby, Donald Fagen, Little Walter, Freddie King and Howlin’ Wolf, to name a few...
It’s been a long haul from the ‘wheatbelt’ backblocks, but Western Australia is rapidly getting a taste of the gritty swamp blues of Gus McKay. “I’ve been played all over the world on radio, but as many independent artists know, getting known, in our big brown land… is easier said than done, and for those that really take it on, have to really earn their stripes to bring home the bacon”. Now its time to spread the word in the UK.
This is a watershed album for the Bluesman, as he becomes a little more Urbanised… less swampy…but still with that outback tinge.