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Amy Vinicombe, Xpress Magazine 2009

On tour with his band to bring his new album, Kiss And Ride, to life on stage; Jaimi Faulkner took the spotlight. A man who hails from Melbourne as a blues’n’roots artist who took the Australian Blues/Roots Performer Of The Year in 2008, followed by representing Australia in the international blues challenge in Memphis; it was intriguing to hear what he and his band had to offer tonight.  I had high expectations and, to be honest, I was fairly disappointed.
Starting off with My Dear Girl and Highway Life, Faulkner’s set slipped into the weekend with smooth and feel-good soulful blues. He and his band played most songs from his latest album, which screamed popular folk/blues, that I thought needed more grit to light up the night. The songs needed more character - much like his tune Reference Tone, that just seemed too clean and radio-friendly. The band did bring up the tempo in a few songs, but most of the set felt like ‘music you’d lay your woman down by’, which was (in a way) not bad, but I felt the set lacked energy and the band didn’t get taken away in the music as they could have with their obvious. (sic)
Saying this, Faulkner and his band knew how to play, and Faulkner’s guitar work wasn’t any less than great. He kept this flowing throughout the evening, and a lot of keen punters soaked themselves in his playing. Bringing out a bit of country, Faulkner played the harmonica alongside the trotting bass and drums, and underlying guitar and keys. The harmonica added a different feel that was definitely needed, and helped to break up the set.
The whole evening seemed quiet and not-so-enthusiastic, and maybe a little too relaxed. I was hoping Faulkner and his band would step up to light up the evening and get the room dancing, but unfortunately they didn’t. Those who wanted to kick back and relax after a long week, however, were treated to the very talented Jaimi Faulkner serenading them over to the wee hours of Saturday morning. 

Jaimi Faulkner / Dave Mann / Squidy Mojo’s Bar Friday, June 26, 2009

Chris Lambie, Forte 2009

Melbourne-based Faulkner meanders easily around 14 tracks of earthy blues, country rock and sweet white soul.   He’s consolidated a distinctive and widely appealing rootsy sound - accessible without compromise.  His vocals are kinda ‘West Coast’ with a righteous edge.  (Think solo Diesel, Ryan Adams or The Badloves.)  Opening track ‘Down’ kicks off with a familiar Faulkner beat and solid hook. The lyrics were born far from his Melbourne home.  Musings on time alone in new lands and missing loved ones back home aren’t new and wisely, he sums up the sentiments without trying to be Dylan.  On ‘Highway Life’ he sings: I ain’t been round that long / But I’ve seen more cities than I have seen years. 

An interlude of quiet ballads midway delivers love letters to melt hearts.  When things get rockier with steel strings wailing, we’re reminded of his guitar skills.  Faulkner rides the balance between passion and restraint on acoustic, electric and Dobro.  He adds harmonica with Tim Keegan on bass and Daniel Farrugia on sticks.  Faulkner’s tunes have always sounded their most fulsome with keys and Berish Bilander shines on Wurlitzer, Hammond and piano.  ‘Rooftops’ benefits from guest violin and piano accordion.  Liz Stringer, Kylie Auldist, Jason Heerah and Nadene Sachinidis add vocal adornment.  Previously released ‘Shame’ and ‘Back to You’ are reworked here and it’s a matter of personal taste which versions you favour.  (Have to admit, I miss Mia Dyson’s vocals from the original of the latter.)  Nathan Adair’s artwork is eye-catching and suited to the product while producer Lloyd Barratt and engineer Dave Manton keep it tight and punchy.  With the right exposure, Kiss & Ride should take Faulkner even further.  A household name waiting to happen.