Lachlan Bryan has one of the most flexible voices in Australia – he can take on songs from most genres and not only do them justice but sound like himself without making it sound like he’s trying to sound like himself. Which possibly doesn’t make sense, but anyone who has seen one of his Drunken Piano Sessions online will likely understand what it means. To put it another way: he has a distinctive voice but he is also interested in serving the song and the story within the song. This makes him a diverse and versatile artist. It also means he can offer something new each time he comes to record, and that is what he’s done on ‘Quit While We’re Ahead’, the new single from Lachlan Bryan & the Wildes.
This is a song that Bryan says emerged in fifteen minutes and is basically the same song as it was then. It is a swirling tale of attraction, repulsion, and circling around within those forces, and of the need, accordingly, to ‘quit while we’re ahead’ otherwise those forces will keep pulling the two people back together, over and over.
With another singer, in another tone of voice, this could be a song of missed chances and isn’t-that-unfortunate. But Bryan brings growling menace in a way he hasn’t before, and that’s how we understand what is at stake: this relationship will bring these two people down, with untold consequences, if it continues. This understanding – and the menace – is actually emphasised rather than detracted from by the jaunty carnival organ played by Shaun Ryan that appears a few bars in, as does the overall cyclical nature of the song. It starts to feel like we’re inside a room of funhouse mirrors being chased by a homicidal clown, which is perhaps how it feels to be inside the push and pull of the relationship as well. Bryan’s voice does have an undertone of determination that suggests the quitting will, indeed, happen – but right at the end, there it is: a wavering in his voice, signifying doubt. That cycle is starting again. We are back inside this confounding, captivating carnival.
‘Quit While We’re Ahead’ is not on the band’s latest album, Nearest Misses (Live), but that is their latest album. You can find out more at lachlanbryanandthewildes.com