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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Review: Leigh Sloggett - Looking For The Clues

Leigh Sloggett - Looking For The Clues
2008, Leigh Sloggett

Australian fans of roots music already know Leigh Sloggett; now it's time for the rest of you to become acquainted. Sloggett is a highly accomplished and personal songwriter, weaving intricate stories around finger picked guitar compositions. His sophomore album, Looking For The Clues was released in November, 2008, with a concert/launch party at The Guild Theatre in Melbourne. Featuring double bass and vocal support from Liz Frencham (Jigzag, Frencham and Smith), Sloggett has created a wonderful textured and subtle collection of thirteen story songs. Readers of Wildy's World may not know Sloggett by name, but if you took our recommendation and checked out Tom Bolton's wonderful When I Cross The River you've heard Sloggett's lap steel work.

Looking For The Clues opens with the title track, a plaintive folk number with a quiet energy that will catch the listener by surprise. Blues elements give this tale of unrequited love and unknown destination a noir flavor that's very intriguing. The narrator here is looking for direction in a new place and has as much of an idea as the listener where he's going. Blue Jewel is a great down-tempo blues piece. Sloggett has the perfect voice for this material, and the harmony vocal blends with his voice perfectly. Stone is a somewhat circumspect look at unintended consequences of decisions make and actions we undertake. It's very intelligently written and quite abstract, and the music is wonderful. The song is full of wonderful acoustic guitar work with a lot of blues woven into the musical tapestry.

Money Can't Buy Happiness is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek look at the blessing and curse that is money. The blues arrangement is ideal for the song, and Sloggett has just enough of the smarmy showman in him to pull this one off. Sloggett gets instrumental on Thornbill, a pretty and quietly energetic guitar piece with one of those melody lines that you'll be humming for days. This song underscores the ultimate strength of Sloggett as a performer. He's extremely adept with the guitar in his hands, and a strong singer, but the man's sense of melody is uncanny. Every melody here is the sort you could easily hum or sing along to. Crayfish Col is wonderfully dark and textured in the guitar work. If you close your eyes you can picture this song being song in a dark pub where they still throw the peanut shells on the floor; there's a vaguely Celtic flavor here that pushes at the bounds of the arrangement to be set free.

Am I Going Insane is another of those songs that may or may not be tongue-in-cheek, but the delicious blues guitar work will turn your head irrespective of any possible sense of whimsy. The narrator is definitely having a bad day, and it's a great listen. Switchback is a vibrant yet reserved instrumental with all of the characteristics of the trail type from which it takes its name. Sloggett closes out with Sweet Water Rag and some delicious slide-guitar work that you won't want to miss.

Looking For The Clues is an understated effort that gets in under your defenses and mesmerizes you with great storytelling and amazing guitar work. Leigh Sloggett is quiet but the weight of his words is impressive, and the arrangements presented here will keep listeners busy listening for some time to come. Looking For The Clues is one fine Americana collection that deserves wide recognition.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Leigh Sloggett at or You can purchase a copy of Looking For The Clues at

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