Chloe & Jason Roweth:
The Riderless Horse ’Äì An Australian Impression of World War One is a wonderful offering from Us Not Them, - Chloe and Jason Roweth. Carefully selecting from mainly contemporary sources, the duo presents a variety of creative responses to the horrific experience of war. In song, tune and poem we are taken on a journey of reflection and enlightenment.
The musical selections range from the poignant and wistful to the rousing and boisterous. Euphemistic language is contrasted with literal descriptions and narratives that resulted from someone ’Äúdoing their bit’Äù in warfare. The sensitive juxtaposition of such varied material adds to the listening interest of this CD.
Special mention should be made of three songs that for me particularly stood out.
Their musical treatment of Henry Lawson's poem The Route March is deeply moving. Processions, especially those associated with the military, always fascinate the young and are normally associated with lively, rousing music. But in keeping with the harsh implication of Lawson's conclusion from what he observes, the hauntingly beautiful musical setting by Cathie O'Sullivan is so appropriate. Chloe's vocals resonate much warmth and feeling.
Hic Jacet, a poem by Tom Wilson, has been set to music by Bob Rummery. Wilson fought at Gallipoli and his poem is a powerful and fascinating narrative of an individual's growing awareness, while carrying out an officer's order, of the stark horror and tragic waste in war. The sensitive treatment of this subject matter, with delicately restrained musical accompaniment, is again indicative of the intelligent perception of this talented duo.
There are a number of songs included that wistfully express a desire to be back in Australia. One of these is Dan Sheahan's The Sleeper Cutters' Camp, set to a wonderful tune by Denis Kevans. Jason takes the lead vocals and he does a fine job expressing the mixture of emotions, including frustration and bravado, in the narrative.
This CD presentation of music and spoken word constitutes a very valuable resource and listening experience. Covering a period of history that seems to be gathering greater public attention and interest, the accessibility of the material selected for the CD is commendable. It comes with a booklet containing all the song lyrics and poems as well as interesting and informative notes.
The vocals are strong and the diction clear. Chloe's mandolin and Jason's guitar are just so appealing. There is thought and feeling in their playing. Another fine CD from this exceptional duo.