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Album of the Week

by reception
posted 14/09/2014

Blackbird – Dan Sultan

Dan Sultan found a new management team, a new record label, and sought the guidance of producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, King Of Leon). The result is Blackbird, Sultan’s third album and the result of two months of production in Nashville. Coming off the back of his multi award-winning effort Get Out While You Can, expectations were high, and Blackbird certainly delivers.

As raw and honest as it is prodigious, the album sets Sultan’s wide-ranging talent as a songwriter and performer at the fore. The powerhouse riffs of first single ‘Under Your Skin’ (written with Sparkadia’s Alexander Burnett and TZU’s Pip Norman) are met by crackling gospel interludes, old-school rock and roll jams, pure country tones, bare and aching ballads, harmonies, horns, banjos – even an Arabic scale or two.

dan sultan

As well as his staple rhythm section of bassist Joshua Jones and drummer Peter Marin, the studio sessions sees a revolving cast of additional Nashville players, including Russian-born bluegrass player Ilya Toshinsky, who plays banjo on ‘The Same Man’. “He’s an incredible musician,” Sultan says. “The song goes from this hillbilly sound to Arabic scales to just flat-out shredding, and it’s on an Australian rock and roll song. And we recorded it in Nashville. That’s pretty weird, but it all comes together.”

Though it draws inspiration from afar, Blackbird is also a simple journey of a man singing about love, desire and identity. The album describes the years of searching that came before it. It’s there in the charging second single ‘The Same Man’; it’s in the ode to country ‘Kimberley Calling’ and in Blackbird’s stripped back final track, ‘Gullible Few’.


Blackbird is a definite achievement and worthy of Sultan’s undisputed talent. Sultan’s beautiful songwriting has developed to a previously unseen level of depth and maturity in his work.


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