“A Passionate Heart” the debut album by the Stringybark Band (aka Paddy Melon) is a lively collection of Australiana, Celtic, Scottish and country songs, lovingly crafted in their home town Sydney, Australia. Featuring the vocals of father (Ross Hamilton – guitar, mandolin, banjo) and daughter Emma Hamilton and supported by some of Australia’s finest folk musicians including Mark Oats (fiddle), Garry Steel (piano, keyboards, piano accordian, synths, programming), Michael Vidale (double bass), Mike Kerin (fiddle, guitar) and son Thomas Hamilton (drums, percussion), the album starts with the very personal Peter Sarstedt love song “Where do you go to my Lovely?” and features an atmospheric accordian solo by Garry that transports you to “the back streets of Naples.”
This is followed by “I Am Australian”, the song that since it was written in 1987, has become like a second national anthem. A warm duet between Ross and Emma tells the story of Australia’s growth from Aboriginal settlement through to the present day.
In “Clancy of the Overflow” Ross spins the famous 1889 yarn by Banjo Paterson about the man, trapped at his office desk, who dreams of swapping his city life for the adventures of his friend Clancy, riding his horse and droving cattle in outback Queensland.
A poignant telling of the horrors of World War One follows with the Eric Bogle song “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”-surely one of the greatest anti-war songs ever written.
Onto Australia’s unofficial national anthem, again written by Banjo Paterson “Waltzing Matilda” – the song that every Aussie child learns in school and carries with them around the world, wherever they are travelling or living. “Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong under the shade of a coolabah tree…..” (this rousing version uses the original Queensland melody and is a real toe-tapper.)
A complete change of pace is heard on the old Irish love song “Maggie”, a sweet ballad about the power of deep, long-lasting love, featuring a haunting fiddle solo by Mark.
A very jaunty version of the English/Irish Easter song “Lord Of The Dance” includes the Irish tune “Davey Knick-Knack” and features Garry’s pulsing cajun accordian under Mark’s lively fiddle playing.
Next is the Pete St. John ballad “The Fields of Athenry”, a haunting piece about the tragic potato famine in Ireland and a man who was convicted for stealing a piece of corn to feed his starving family. Transported to Australia as a convict for seven years, never to return, this song particularly touches us because of our own convict heritage and could well be the story of so many Australians.
Back to Australia and national service during the Vietnam war, John Schumann’s great anti-war song “I Was Only 19” is a tribute to the many Australians who served their country during this conflict. A blistering fiddle solo by Mark, followed by some gutsy piano by Garry, takes you back to 1969 when “mankind kicked the moon.”
A complete change of style for the romantic Phil Coulter love song “Stealaway”, features Ross and Emma in a dreamy interpretation of this mighty Irish ballad.
Across the ocean to Scotland for the atmospheric telling of “The Scottish Soldier” with Garry’s distant and swelling marching drums and moody synths, punctured by the multi-tracked fiddles of Mark Oats and Mike Kerin.
To complete this journey we have included a medley of some of our favourite Celtic tunes, commencing with the ancient “Londonderry Air “(“Danny Boy”) then onto a foot-tapping pastiche of hornpipes that is wonderfully interrupted by a searing Double Bass solo by Michael Vidale, then onto a rousing finish with the marvellous “Belfast Hornpipe.”
We hope you enjoy our debut album and have many warm nights around the fireplace listening to “A Passionate Heart.”