Album: Halfway<!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

Farewell to the Fainthearted, LAUGHING OUTLAW
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The Independent Culture

The Australian label Laughing Outlaw has been providing an outlet for homegrown antipodean alt.rock outfits for a couple of years now, though few have merited the kind of wider attention that Farewell to the Fainthearted deserves. Fronted by the songwriters John Busby and Chris Dale, Halfway are a group from Brisbane who specialise in songs of uncertainty, estrangement and departure - the typical shifting-sands material of country music - set to arrangements which emulate the tone and texture of classic Seventies country-rock. The hidden bonus track, a cover of Little Feat's truckers' anthem "Willin'", is as clear an indication of their intentions as any, though it must be said that only occasionally does their own material reach comparably rarefied heights. But there are some nicely-turned lines in songs such as "Patience Back", where a whiskery groove in the manner of The Gourds carries put-downs of bohemian elegance: "I'll leave you out like a front-door mat? I'll wear you out like a hobo's hat". Elsewhere, drink fuels the emotions of "Sure Uncertain" and "Drunk Again", while Busby's (or Dale's?) woody delivery expertly conveys the kilometres of regret in road songs like "Six Hours From Brisbane" and reminiscences like "C.Q. Skyline", whose protagonist recalls a youth spent "drivin' round in your car, listening to Big Star".