Slide Milligan Releases Debut Album 'Blood Red River'
Dave Milligan goes by the stage name of Slide Milligan, and with good reason. These twelve album
tracks feature plenty of glorious slide guitar driving them. In fact, this Australian rocker built his own lap
steel guitar, which sings all over this album. It colors most of the songs, which are all top drawer
Milligan’s music can get a little dark at times. Then again, he is also unashamed to tell you when he’s
doing well, which is exactly what he shares with us during “Feelin’ Fine,” where he expresses positive
summer emotions. On “After Glow,” Milligan spreads more good vibes, only this time with an acoustic
instrumented workout. It’s taken at a leisurely pace, and continues the happy outlook created with
Watch Feelin' Fine's music video here:
As a vocalist, Milligan sings with a gruff sincerity, which wonderfully reminds one of ‘70s outlaw country
artists. And there are country sounds running through Blood Red River, as well as punk, Southern Gothic
and psychedelic elements. However, “Tomorrow’s Yesterday,” which reads like a psychedelic rock song
title, rumbles lazily like a moody Southern rock song. Milligan mentions dingoes, though, within its lyric,
which also gives this song a distinctly Australian flavor.
Although many of these songs develop slowly, like a fine wine, one titled “Gasoline” rollicks to a steady,
rocking groove. Of course, the slide guitar propels it like a speed demon with his foot on the gas. It gets
moving so fast, in fact, it may make you feel like you’re driving much too fast on a rainy wet road at
midnight. Then again, you have a tank full of gas and just can’t make yourself stop, let alone slow down.
For the most part, Milligan handles all the vocals himself. In contrast, “Dead Man,” where he describes a
dead man walking (“A dead man walking back to you”), one hears a female backing vocalist in places. The guitar part is low and bellowing and deathly cool. Next up, “Sharks,” kicks off momentarily with
keyboards, before going into a strummed guitar groove.
The album includes “Need (Reprise),” which breaks out in all kinds of sonic wildness. It’s as if Milligan
has let his guitar free out into the wild to just explode with beautiful, rock & roll noise. It’s the sound of no longer being pent up, and is a short, sharp, spark of explosiveness. It’s only just over two minutes
long, but you won’t want it to end. Trust me.
The album closes with another one of the album’s sad songs, appropriately enough, called “Lost.” It’s a
drum-driven, slight dirge worthy of The Cure’s early sonic sadness. Milligan, naturally, sounds forlorn
singing it. There’s probably no better hurting word than ‘lost.’ The hymn “Amazing Grace,” remember,
speaks to being lost once, but now found. Milligan is not singing about separation from God, though, but about a woman he loves, instead. “Please come back to me,” he pleads, and the listener can fully feel his deep pain. Some people are perfectly happy living an independent life. Not the character in this song, however. He’s totally lost when all by himself.
Yes, this album explores a wide range of emotions, and does so with enjoyable inventive musicianship.
Do make time, then, to visit this ‘River.’
Listen to the 'Blood Red River' here: