The Darling Downs Biography
What are the odds that these two towering figures of Australian music, famous for swaggering, noisy, swampy punk rock (Salmon) and soaring pop rock (Peno) would concoct such a perfect loveletter to American country folk? 1000-1? Armed only with Kim Salmon’s custom Cole Clark acoustic guitar and Peno’s singular voice and vision, The Darling Downs crafted an almost impossible album: a record of nuanced beauty, a subtle masterpiece that unfolds like a dahlia with each successive spin, giving the listener something new and unexpected at every helping. All from two guys and one pristine guitar.
At times Peno channels the spirit of Appalachian folk’s high lonesome sound, complete with yips, yelps and howls (“In That Jar,” “Let It Breathe”), while elsewhere his (improvised?!) vocals are hypnotically understated, almost delicate--threatening to disappear into thin air before crashing down like thunder (“Loverslain,” “Deep Deep Blue”). Supporting Peno’s acrobatic vocal brilliance is Salmon’s equally understated, elegant guitar playing, perhaps the most restrained of his career, made all the more stunning when you know the fireworks and growl of which he is capable and for which he is famous. From the more traditional strumming on “There’s a Light,” to the fingerpicked sparkle of the opening track “I’ll Be Always There” and “In a Cold Place by a Lake,” augmented by mouth harp and triangle that almost shock when they emerge from the surrounding ambiance, to the near ragas on “Why Did She Leave?” and “Waste My Time,” Salmon showcases not only his versatility but playing of such surprisingly refined grace that it defines the album as one of the best listens of 2006.
Their 18 months of live shows in Australia have garnered the most glowing reviews possible, with their appearance at the 2005 Harvest Festival, in front of The Handsome Family, stealing the show. Our hope is that American and European audiences will have a chance to have their hearts stolen soon.
"What stays with the listener is a ghostly afterimage that plays on the heart like headlight patterns on a bedroom wall at 3AM, and an inexplicable but not unpleasant sense of yearning and loss. It's a desolate, masterful work by two artists who have nothing to prove, and nothing to lose." - Tony Dale - Ptolemaic Terrascope
“With Salmon often infusing the guitar lines with deft lilts and melodies, grasping each song is sometimes as difficult as interpreting a smoke signal in a storm, the ever-shifting qualities of the music making it difficult to categorize. The experience mesmerizes...” – The Age (AU)
“There are plenty of bands around at the moment paying homage to the proto-country rock sounds of The Band, The Byrds and Gram Parsons; only a trivial amount of them can claim to approach the Darling Downs’ idiosyncratic perspective on the country genre.” - Patrick Emery – Beat magazine
“Anyone who saw those guys that day at Red Hill will tell you greatness was at work.” - Marcus Mulcahy - Harvet Festival