Some would say it takes a brave man to cover the beloved Australian Crawl song ‘Reckless’. For one thing, James Reyne’s vocals are inimitable, so that brave man would be wise to not even try. But that brave man would also realise that a song so iconic has lingered for a reason: it’s a bloody good song. Such a song is worth taking a tilt at then, and on his new album, The Wide Horizon, Darren Coggan is that brave man taking that tilt, with wonderful results. The occasionally hopeless melancholy of the original is still there in Coggan’s interpretation, but this version has a bit more grit and determination. The song sounds completely contemporary, which is down to Reyne’s skill, but also to Coggan’s. And it is Coggan who has written most of the other songs on this impressive album.
Coggan is partly known for his Cat Stevens show, Peace Train, and there is plenty of Cat in his voice, but not so much that he sounds like an imitator. It’s the warmth and slight edginess that’s the same, and Coggan uses that to very good effect on this album of songs that are rich in sentiment and setting.
‘The ‘Bidgee’ takes us to the Riverina of New South Wales – Coggan grew up in Wagga Wagga – and ‘Inasmuch’ to Norfolk Island (with guest vocals from Felicity Urquhart). ‘Until We Meet Again’ is a stirring farewell to a friend, and ‘Seventeen’ is an act of devotion to his wife. Each song is a story worth listening to over and over, and Coggan brings just the right amount of feeling to each.
In a country music culture as rich as Australia’s, the standard has become very high. We have so much extraordinary music to choose from that even great artists who ply their craft with dedication and professionalism can get missed. If you are someone who likes their music to have heart and authenticity, who likes a good story well told, who doesn’t need their country music to always sound country but who appreciates that at the core of country music is storytelling and respect for the audience, don’t miss The Wide Horizon.
The Wide Horizon is available now.