‘Semi Pro Gamer’ sits a little uncomfortably amongst these tracks – it is a good tune with a great chorus; it’s just Salter singing lines such as “I don’t need a passport / Just an unlimited wireless plan” that seems odd. But it’s a minor blip on the radar of an otherwise enjoyable interim release.
Ben Salter is one of Australia’s most underrated songwriters in one of the country’s most underrated bands, The Gin Club. As the chief songwriter of that band/collective, Salter has produced many fine, haunting tracks, ranging from alt and country rock to colonial-era-inspired gems. How ‘Say You Love Me’from the Deathwish album isn’t a hit I’ll never know.
Salter’s solo LP The Cat departed slightly from the The Gin Club mould, further showcasing the range of a fine songwriter, and thisEP continues that trend in a surprisingly more experimental way. It’s evident on ‘Tremulous’ with its thumping, heightened pulse and keys reminiscent of something from the score of Blade Runner.
The EP’s title is not misleading: each track was recorded last year across several locales in Europe, although there are not necessarily obvious connections between song and place. Instrumental tracksprovide an interesting change of pace, ‘All The Things’ sounding more like it’s from the American heartland than from Ireland where it was recorded.
The rest is more recognisably Salter: ‘The Prophetess’ is a steady, darkly rocking opener, and ‘Not Today’ is almost the antithesis of that – sharp plucking of acoustic guitar accompanied by strings and sultry saxophone that catches you unawares. “I just want to be free / What do we say to death? / Not today,” sings Salter.
BY GARRY WESTMORE
European Vacation is out now through ABC Music.