Following the break up of Powderfinger in 2011, Bernard Fanning was in no real rush to put out an album, though there was no doubt pressure for him to do so. Instead he resided in Madrid with his wife and young daughter, no doubt reflecting on what had been and what was to come.

Naming his second solo LP Departures invites many ideas of change, both musically and thematically, but nothing is too absolute or obvious here. Certainly, the title track Departures (Blue Toowong Skies) reflects on the passing of Fanning’s father (who died in January, 2011) and also touches on his brother’s 2002 death from cancer and does so in quite a beautiful, ethereal manner, almost gospel-like.

Musically speaking the album’s first single, Battleships, is the most Powderfinger-like song on the LP, and while it’s not hard to hear the old band – given his voice was front and centre – Fanning has followed a more electronic avenue this time around, focusing on tighter grooves (‘Call You Home’, ‘Limbo Stick’), funkier climes (‘Drake’, ‘Zero Sum Game’, ‘Here Comes The Sadist’) and more trademark moody balladry (‘Grow Around You’).

This is Bernard Fanning, however, whose name and old band have probably already made up your mind whether you’re going to buy this or not. One thing’s for sure, he’s back on the Australian musical landscape and is here for the staying.

3/5 stars

BY BOB GORDON

Departures is out now through Dew Process/Universal.

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