“The best music is border music, the sound of cultures colliding. In the late 20th century Black Australians assimilated Country & Western, that whitest of American musical forms, to tell the story of their physical subjugation, spiritual stoicism and eventual political awakening.” That introductory statement, imprinted on the lyric booklet that accompanies Stranger in My Land, lays out the premise for what might otherwise seem an unlikely anomaly. Roger Knox, one of Australia’s indigenous people, the Aborigines, teams with alt insurgents Jon Langford and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts to tell the story of how his people were displaced, subject to prejudice and persecution, and turned into outcasts in their own country.
Nevertheless, despite this sad premise, Stranger in My Land isn’t fraught with self-pity or petulance. The songs swing with a an honest to goodness down home flair, enhanced by the spark of pedal steel, a generous helping of twang and more than a hint of homespun wisdom. The attitude is genuinely upbeat; “The Land Where the Crow Flies Backwards,” “Stranger in My Country,” “Scobie’s Dream” and “Warrior in Chains” relate these turbulent tales with both humility and humanity. Given its mesh of subject and style, Stranger in My Land makes for an enlightening encounter.
DOWNLOAD: “The Land Where the Crow Flies Backwards,” “Stranger in My Country,” “Scobie’s Dream” –LEE ZIMMERMAN