I’m sure there are two questions that Jack Ladder hates: “Do you play basketball?” and “Did you know you sound like Nick Cave?” The answer to those are no, and yeah get the shit outta here. Lucky for him, I’ve never heard of Nick Cave. Sadly, the first thing I thought of when I first heard this 6″7 Aussie musician was, “Wow, his voice is so deep, like that guy from Crash Test Dummies.” Yeah, I know I’m so cool, but they were popular back in the day! To certain people. In small towns.
Anyways, hearing Jack Ladder, a.k.a Tim Rogers was like a breath of fresh, moody air. In a landscape dominated by nasal-y, prepubescent man-boys, an actually downright masculine baritone is very, very welcome. Besides being known for his height, Ladder is a successful singer-songwriter and just released his 3rd album, Hurtsville, in North America this past summer.
Having already released two successful albums in his home country, this third release marks an abrupt departure from his original country/folk sound. To his hardcore fans, Hurtsville may seem like a 180, but to Ladder and his new band, The Dreamlanders, it was a natural evolutionary process. “When we did Love Is Gone, I was very anti effects pedals. I didn’t even want reverb on my voice,” explains Ladder. Once on tour and after a stint in NYC though, Ladder found his own sound unsatisfying until he met guitarist Kirin J. Callinan. The two jammed together so well that they ended up veering off into an entirely different sound – which wasn’t always to fans’ delight. “Kirin and I got really good as a duo, but the problem was I completely isolated anyone who actually liked the record,” laughs Ladder during a past interview about their performances. The end result is Hurtsville, a as highly orchestrated and majestic an album as Love Is Gone was sparse.
To produce the album, Ladder and his band decided to eschew the slickly controlled environment of an urban studio. Desiring an authentic “Australian sound,” they headed out into the famous outback, settling down in a replica Scottish castle in the town of Yass. The towering halls of the old structure was a serendipitous find, providing the unique acoustics that gives the album much of its haunting mystique. Songs like Short Memory and Cold Feet echo eerily against Ladder’s soulful voice, resulting in an effect that is simultaneously desolate, while pleasurable to hear. This is music for the lonely hearted, for the down and out who pick themselves up, shrug off the dirt and wander on alone. Let your thoughts wander into the dark side. Who knew solitude could be so good.