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A voice from the wilderness

Charcoal Lane
Charcoal Lane
By Archie Roach

HighTone Records: 1992

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This review first appeared in the July 31, 1992 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Australian aborigine Archie Roach's brand of music is closer to contemporary African folk music in many ways than the American blues it is being marketed as.

Although the scalar and rhythmic structures are blues in nature, the melodies borrow more from modern East African traditions. All in all, though, it's a pretty nice combination of traditions.

This is moving music; if he doesn't preach, Roach nevertheless has a message of social injustice to get across and he does so simply and with taste.

While it may have been more interesting to hear Roach record music from his own cultural traditions, he is a gifted bluesman, a strong singer and a fine composer.

His slow, undulating compositions are built around his sonorous vocals and the simple, non-patronizing tales they tale. His bandmates are solid and unobtrusive, leading to a very pleasant experience of listening to a gifted singer/songwriter.