Dark Matter is arguably the deadliest album yet in the distinguished solo recording career of Shane Howard” - Tony Hillier


Dark Matter : CD
  • Dark Matter : CD
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Shane Howard's new album, 'Dark Matter' is his 14th solo album. Released in March 2020, 'Dark Matter' continues to plumb the depths. CD is a 4 panel CD Gatefold Wallet in an Ecobag (Cellophane bag)

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a beautiful, troubling and ultimately uplifting gift of songs ” - Michael White



The Writing on the Wall

'The writing on the Wall' is the first single from 'Dark Matter' 

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Dark Matter

Shane Howard

His songs rise out of a deep well of lived experience, underpinned by a philosophy, as incisive as it is inclusive. 40 years of singing, writing and journeying the globe have dinted but not broken this unconventional and independent poet of modern song.His new album, Dark Matter, his 14th solo album, continues to plumb the depths.

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Goanna Arts/MGM 

••••• (5 stars) 

Dark Matter is arguably the deadliest album yet in the distinguished solo recording career of Shane Howard, one of the most enduringly engaging and socially conscious Australian singer-songwriters of the past 40 years. Strong and occasionally scathing in message and metaphor yet softened by the troubadour’s mellifluous voice, ear for a melody and poetic words, it hits with a velvet glove while hammering out some home truths. Dreamtime legends and biblical citations sit in perfect sync with eco-political concerns, historical and cultural references and various collaborations. Between the sound of thunder and rain that bookend Dark Matter and storm clouds of despondency lay bursts of sunshine, optimism and expressions of love in the shape of exquisite strings-laced, female accompanied ballads, Wild Rivers and The Sweetest Thing. Goanna-esque folk-rockers This Country and Times Like These articulate wisdom and vulnerability over driving rhythm. The latter features Howard and his partner-in-rhyme, Redgum’s John Schumann, swapping verses between clipped Mark Knopfler-like guitar fills. In Palya Wiru Uluru, an upbeat piece prompted by the cessation of climbing at ‘The Rock’, Howard takes a twangy country turn in tandem with Pitjantjatjara elder Trevor Adamson. The equally engaging Wattah, which also contains Indigenous language, was written with West Victorian Aborigine Andy Alberts to commemorate the repatriation of bones returned from museums in Australia and abroad. Howard recruited Archie Roach, another soulmate, to add lyrics from an Aboriginal perspective to his telemovie score for Secret River, in which he deftly incorporates the melody of English folk standard Greensleeves. The questioning opener What Do You Want From Me? and back-to-bush ode World Going ‘Round are excellent co-compositions with long-time collaborator Phil Butson. The quizzical Writing On The Wall (“Why are the ears not listening? /Why can’t the voices be heard?”) is astutely offset by the bouncy folk-pop feel of Lay Your Burden Down that follows. Interpolating a jarring Kurdish folk tune in a song inspired by Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani’s book is about the only dubious move in an otherwise impeccably arranged and executed album that merits a place on the same pedestal as Howard’s/Goanna’s classic 1982 long-player Spirit Of Place, which yielded Aboriginal rights anthem and radio staple Solid Rock. 

Tony Hillier