Australian troubadour weaves musical magic across Western Canada

Posted by on 24 July 2013

Australia's most famous musical export may well be the diesel-fueled anthem rock of AC/DC, but there's another facet to the country's musical landscape.

Whether it's the country's profound isolation at the bottom of the world, or the immensity of its empty spaces, Down Under seems to inspire a particularly haunting, reflective style of songwriting that permeates the work of singer-songwriters like Gotye and Colin Hay and groups like Midnight Oil and Crowded House.

Add the name Jordie Lane to that list.

The 26-year-old Melbourne native more than capably carries the standard forward as his first Canadian tour rolls into Alberta, with a show at Edmonton's The Artery Wednesday night, at Jasper's Olive Bistro Thursday, and weekend performances at the Calgary Folk Fest.

Lane has been on the road almost constantly for the past eight years, backpacking around Southeast Asia, touring his native Australia and living rough in the Mojave Desert.

During this time, he has produced four albums including the just-released Live at the Wheaty and 2011's Blood Thinner, which was partly recorded on a portable four-track during a pilgrimage to Joshua Tree National Park, chasing the spirit of his musical hero, country legend Gram Parsons.

This restless lifestyle fuels Lane's song craft, which speaks with the plaintiveness, the poignancy, the melancholy and the eternal optimism of the leather-worn wanderer, fueled by his experiences on this voyage across three continents.

"Lost Along the Way" is a mournful ode to a sweetheart thousands of miles away; "Room 8″ is about the night he spent in the motel room where Gram Parsons died; "Hollywood's Got a Hold" is a comic piece with a massive sing-along chorus about trying to buy a sandwich in suburban L.A. — and stumbling into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Lane also sometimes draws on literature or local folklore: "Black Diamond" is a haunting ballad about the ghost of a small town prostitute killed in a mine explosion and interred in a tavern cellar; "I Could Die Looking at You," off 2009's Sleeping Patterns album, is a seemingly straightforward love song that doubles as a tribute to the legendary Australian bush poet Banjo Paterson.