25 September 2023

Sydney Rococo

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Steve Kilbey, Golden Robot Records 2019.

Steve Kilbey is part of Aussie music royalty.

As well as releasing 30 albums with rock legends, The Church, he has released 20+ solo albums.

He’s been in the music business for 45 years and his influence has spread well beyond our shores and across numerous artistic genres.

He has published three books (with a new one in the works) and realised hundreds of original paintings.

Sydney Rococo is a collection of songs Steve has written over the past five years.

They paint a picture of life in the fast growing and evolving city famed for its beaches and Opera House.

However, they also explore some of the seedier side to Sydney, her underground hangouts, treachery, the woe and heartache.

The opening title track introduces a different Kilbey sound with strings that filter images of Sydney, as summer sun is filtered through leaves that throw shadows upon a city that is forever growing, changing, and pushing skywards.

Sydney Rococo is really a love letter to Sydney and her inhabitants in song.

The songs tell stories of people who are living lifestyles that are often unconventional or non-mainstream.

They are typical Kilbey songs that combine dispirit elements that have us falling in love and simultaneously feeling the pain of loss, betrayal and abandonment.

Steve Kilbey’s great strength has always been his remarkable songwriting and particularly his lyricism.

On Sydney Rococo Kilbey worked closely with his good friend George Ellis who arranged the strings that provide the classical feel that sets this album apart from most of Kilbey’s other work.

Steve is painting with a different and expanded palette of sounds and colours and the process has resulted in one of the most impressive albums he has ever released and one of the best albums I’ve heard this year.

Steve Kilbey is currently touring in America with The Church and after a brief return home the band will head off to tours in the UK and Europe so it may be some time before we get to experience these songs live.

In the meantime we’ll just have to make do with the album.

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