2019 album. Folk.
Ned Collette captures a corner of folk that’s not been wrung dry over the years and his new album ‘Old Chestnut’ is a truly accomplished work, from the Melbourne-born, Berlin based musician and producer. This release is a gorgeous dark folk opus, fleshed out in lush but precise and sparkling instrumentation thanks to a band of extraordinary collaborators. A mixture of melancholy balladry interwoven with daedal and often delicate instrumentals that not only frame and anchor the ‘songs’ but beautifully showcase the calibre of Collette’s arrangements and musicianship. This is the record that will etch the name Ned Collette into the lexicon of great Australian songwriters.
The artist isn’t interested in the slightest that a song sticks to the listener through traditionally memorable means, instead he’s working to press it into the skin with the sheer weight of his writing. He has the ability to sparkle in runs of fingerpicking that lean towards the Takoma school, but he’s more tender than technical. He dips into the English tradition of Canterbury classics, but spirals the songs down a well of darkness that’s meatier than the Middle Ages could contain. Towards the end he looses the ties of folk altogether, letting noise and electricity overcome the atmosphere and bury the album in cinder and ash. Its not an album that can be listened to lightly and warrants multiple listens to let Collette’s full vision sink in, but once its under your skin, ‘Old Chestnut’ is hard to shake.
Featuring regular Wirewalker cohorts Joe Talia (who also co-produced the album with Collette) and Ben Bourke, plus Alexander Garsden, cellist Anthea Caddy, and piano from The Necks’ Chris Abrahams on the album’s monolithic centrepiece, ‘June’. Ned says that ‘Old Chestnut’ is the first album he has made that ‘feels like the albums I always wanted to make. It’s just messy enough, elaborate enough, simple enough, improvised and collaborative enough’, and it does feel like ‘Old Chestnut’ is an elevation, and that with it, he has attained a level of songcraft that transcends his already impressive back catalogue. With snippets written as far back as 2008 and 4 years since his last album release, it’s been a long journey. The resultant work is cohesive and articulate in a way few albums are.
“Through dappled meadows and twilight forests… this hazy spellbound folk” Mojo Magazine
“Most Beguiling” Uncut
“One of the albums of the year” Addict Culture (FRA)
“Some of his most lucid, literate compositions yet” Clash Magazine (UK)
“It flourishes effortlessly, remaining captivating as it offers up the pastoral with the cosmic and exists as a skilfully modern exploration of songwriting.” 4ZZZ BRISBANE
"Old Chestnut is a haunting prog-folk song cycle for the ages… Collette has made a goddamn whale of an album.” Feeding Tube Records (USA)