Here is another great album by the Australian duo of Penny Davies and Roger Ilott. This is the latest of many of their CDs that I have purchased over the years. I forget which CD I purchased first but I remember thinking that the CD was great because (initially,as a bonus, it had a Byrdsy feel to it but also because) listening to (what I am guessing are) the Australian folk songs was extremely interesting. It gave me a taste and feel for a life and culture that I had never been aware of prior to listening. I can't thank Penny Davies and Roger Ilott enough for that experience. "Boomerang Bay" is an album that should not be missed. There are 12 great tracks, including a cover of that Carol King/Byrds hit, "Goin' Back". The other tracks make me conjure up imagery and visions of a place made vivid by Penny's & Roger's descriptive lyric and passion. The download is easily worth the price of admission. So, to avoid any confusion on this: Yes! You should buy this album!
This album is available for download from CDBABY.COM.


MOON CALLER Review by Bob Wilson (THE FOLK RAG)

This new recording from Penny Davies & Roger Ilott turned up in my mailbox like a welcome letter from an old friend with new stories to tell.

Penny and Roger have been producing independent music from their home studio near Stanthorpe for more than 20 years, and with at least a dozen of their own recordings behind them, the experience shows. Like Big Water (released 2006), this CD has a folk-rock feel with drums, bass, Dobro and Roger's Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar adding a Byrds' flavour.

Moon Caller is a family affair, with son Jordan Davies-Ilott playing drums and dobro. It must have been a special moment for him to hear Mum and Dad's original song, Goodbye To Your Schooldays, at his high school awards ceremony. The 15 tracks on Moon Caller include old favourites ( Joni Mitchell's Circle Game and J .C. Stewart's tribute to the 1969 moon landing, Armstrong ), and one of the few unpublished collaborations between Roger and the late Bill Scott ( The Goldfield ). Penny and Roger's eight originals include the nostalgic Aurelia (about Penny's experiences emigrating from England) and the wistful opening track, She's Like a Tree .

Jed Hudson , who played with Roger in Sydney folk-rock band The Rusty Dusty Bros in the 1970s, collaborated on this album, playing bass, mandolin and adding backing vocals to some tracks.

Although this is a “band” album, Penny's distinctive, gentle vocals and Roger's under-stated harmonies are always to the fore. O'Mara's Front Verandah is a nostalgic ballad featuring Dobro, mandolin, pedal steel and acoustic bass, but the instruments are well back in the mix, allowing the listener to focus on the words, harmonies and feel of the song.

Other highlights include Song of the Artesian Water ( A.B.Paterson / C.O'Sullivan ), the droll Wet Season Blues and the duo's climate change protest song, Crazy Weather . This is a well-produced, listenable album with a lot of heart.

FROM THE POP GEEK HEAVEN WEBSITE.....Jangle On by Eric Sorenson

"JANGLE ALERT!!  Over the past several years, my friend Ray Verno has shared numerous tracks by the catchy Australian folk-rock duo, Penny Davies and Roger Ilott, in his Byrdsian CD compilations.  The 12-string guitar riffs in Penny and Roger's songs are eerily reminiscent of Roger McGuinn's Rickenbacker sound, and the songs follow a blueprint very similar to the Byrds' and McGuinn's repertoire.  Standout tracks from Penny and Roger's five albums include “Rusty Dusty Days,” “Listen To The Wind,” “Pushing It Down,” “Must Have Been The Moon,” “Silverwood Dam,” “Peaceful,” “Brisbane Girl,” “Turn Again,” “The Lighthouse,” “We'll Meet On The Shore” and “The Long Haul.”  Click here to read more on the POP GEEK HEAVEN WEBSITE.

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BIG WATER CD Review by John Broomhall

I took this new album, (the 100th in the Restless catalogue and the 16th by Davies and Ilott) on a recent trip I made to the outback. Listening to these beautiful songs on the dirt road which follows the Darling River  between Pooncarie and Menindee gave me an added sense of connection: words, music and landscape, weaving their way through me like bright threads of meaning spun from the heart itself.

Penny Davies and Roger Ilott occupy a unique place in Australian music spanning the great divide between Folk and Country. They have reinvigorated the bush ballad, kept alive the protest song, and have celebrated  all that it means to be Australian and citizens of the world, as the new millennia continues its dark unfolding, without a cork hat, lagerphone or phoney accent on the horizon.

Big Water is an important album. It breaks new ground just as their 1st album, 'Restless' did some twenty three years ago. Here are songs of place and identity and of heartfelt humanity. Songs of hills and railway lines, rivers and oceans. Songs that you feel could just make a difference as we all keep on trying to 'turn the world around'.

Musically, you won't hear better on an Australian album. You discover more with each listening. Roger Ilott has wound his guitars up full throttle and the Rickenbacker 12 string has a stridency which is compelling. Many of his arrangements reference the Byrds, but the sound he achieves goes much further than the tribute. It is a sound he and Penny Davies have made their own. It's one of the things about Big Water which make you want to listen to it again, and again. That and the sweetness and strength of both vocals. Roger Ilott takes more lead vocals nowadays and there is an integrity in his gentle delivery, a sureness which only comes from decades of performance. Penny Davies simply has one of the richest voices in Australian folk and country music. Put the two together and you have the best harmonies you're likely to hear.

This is an album of standout songs. From Bill Scott's wonderful sea shanty 'Back to the Sea Again, Johnny' to the evocative 'The Hills and Rocks of Home' ; the powerful message of 'Turn the World Around' ; the poignancy of 'Rusty Dusty Days' . Every song a poetic gem in itself.

It's little wonder Penny Davies and Roger Ilott who already have an Australia wide following for their music, are now finding an audience for their songs around the world.

John Broomhall

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From the Folk Rag November, 2006
CD Review by Lonnie Martin  

It is always a pleasure to hear new music from this talented couple who have been almost “fixtures” on the Australian folk scene for longer than I will admit to remembering. Stylistically, Big Water – their sixteenth album – presents a departure from their earlier work with more folk rock type arrangements and heavier orchestration than I have come to expect from a Penny and Roger album. However the carefully crafted lyrics, narrative impetus and beautiful close harmonies that I love about their work are still strong features of the overall sound.

There are some stand-out moments for me – “The Hills and Rocks of Home” , (P.Davies/R.Ilott) is a stunning arrangement and a lyrically elegant piece written for their son, Jordy, evocatively capturing their granite belt home, and “When the Cooper's Coming Down”, lyrics by journalist Max Fatchen, set by Roger featuring some gorgeous dobro guitar played by Jordy.

I particularly enjoyed the nostalgic “Rusty Dusty Days” , (R.Ilott), recalling the Sydney days in the 1970's in which the Rusty Dusty Brothers band almost made the big time, (Roger was lead guitarist). A nice touch is that the bass player from that band, Jed Hudson, plays bass on this album.

The gritty “Back to the Sea Again Johnny” , (lyrics by Bill Scott - written in 1946 after he left the navy - set by Roger), is another favourite, featuring very tidy banjo and Bill Rodgers playing gorgeous Celtic harp. “The Once-Great Railway Family” , (K.Foster/R.Ilott), paints a brilliant picture of a working railway station with a charming tag that evokes memories of Michael O'Rourke's “Poison train” – there's a light let it shine .

There are surprises on this album – including a Procol Harum cover of “The Angler” (G.Brooker) and a very Byrds' arrangement of “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (Ecclesiastes/P.Seeger). This 1970's folk rock sound carries over onto other tracks and in my opinion, gives a dated feel rather than a modern punch to some of the arrangements. But this is an enchanting CD filled with their trademark clean tight vocals, excellent musicianship and high production values.

Well worth the listen and guaranteed not to sit on the shelf gathering dust!

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I found this new album a rewarding surprise to hear how the duo continues to succeed to deliver convincing songs and arrangements. Even with relatively simple songs they have the same effect, like the opening song, “Turn The World Around”, a track which has something of the strength of the late Steeleye Span (they could easily stand against them), and perhaps still has something of groups like Trees, Mary Jane, Morrigan,.. The song is catchy, a bit straight forward folkrock in energy, but is well arranged to give that convincing effect. Almost in every track they are creative with recognisable folkrock-like melodies, from quiet songs to more rocky folkrock melodies, with an almost live energy. What makes these songs stronger are the compact arrangements. They have a perfect drummer. Often the guitar is Byrds-like, in a very attractive way (the closer is a Byrds-version of Pete Seeger's “Turn!Turn!Turn!”). There are touches of nice slide guitar, where the best elements from alternative folk-country are hinted upon. The voice of Roger reminded me just slightly of Al Stewart on “The Humpback Whale”. A bit different is the Procul Harum track (one of Roger favourite bands) which was originally recorded for a tribute album, and a banjo-rhythmic train song, “The Once-Great Railway Family”. A rewarding album.

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