Dan Sultan
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Dan Sultan

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | INDIE

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | INDIE
Band Rock Soul


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"Womad Review"

While Sultan is clearly influenced by American legends, the music on his 2007 debut, Homemade Biscuits, has a definate Australian flavour - whether he’s talking about ‘rain falling down on the steps of Flinders Street’ or simply through the sound of his distinctly Aussie accent, the Melbourne-born muso is one of the finest roots musicians to come out of the city in recent years. Accompanied by his six-piece touring band, and already garnering impressive accolades from everyone from Rhythms Magazine to Paul Kelly himself - who he played with on the critically-acclaimed Cannot Buy My Soul at the 2008 Sydney Festival - this is one artist you’ll want to check out - Womad 2009

"Homemade Biscuits Review"

I’ve been regrettably slow to get around to Dan Sultan, despite numerous and vehement recommendations. Well… better late than never.
Others have been quicker to recognise Sultan’s considerable talents, John Butler gave Sultan a JB Seed grant to records this very album. Paul Kelly invited Dan to contribute to a Kev Carmody Tribute album. He was nominated for a 2006 Deadly Award for most Promising New Talent. And he’s been invited to perform at nearly every major Festival this summer, including Queenscliff, Woodford and the Falls Festival.

Only moments into the first track of Homemade Biscuits and it’s easy to see why such recognition has flowed Sultan’s way- His powerful musical personality erupts from the first moment he opens his mouth on ‘Your Love is Like a Song’ and doesn’t let up for 12 tracks. Blasting to life with ‘know your product’ style rock/soul brass, it’s a potent album introduction.

But it Sultan’s voice- a warmly authoritative instrument rich with character and range- that ultimately grabs your attention. And as he continues to weave his way through intuitively well-constructed tales of fresh sincerity, you have to marvel that this is a debut album. I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to comment on the accomplished nature of Sultan’s writing and performance.

Dropping the pace back to a delicious swagger, tracks two and three ‘Enemy’ and ‘Forever’ are both affecting roots rock ballads, graceful in melody and delivery and poignant in lyrical content. Sultan proves to be fond of locating his stories for added authenticity. The opening lines of ‘Your Love is like a Son’ mention Melbourne’s Flinder St, and the almost Polynesian summer sway of ‘Caroline’ sees Sultan toking on a joint overlooking the Yarra River

Completing the impeccable tones of Homemade Biscuits is some tasteful rootsy playing courtesy of Sultan and Producer Scott Wilson. Though the liner notes don’t reveal who’s actually responsible for what, the electric guitar sounds and playing are especially strong. Vintage tones wobble with tremolo and ring with reverb around Sultan’s vocal melodies.

But the you hear some incredible bluesy acoustic guitar playing which you have to assume is Sultan’s own, on “the Door Still Open (to my Heart) a song of timeless nature, it sounds like a genuine long lost country /blues standard of the Sun Record era. Stunning. - Martin Jones Rythms Magazine 2006

"All hail the coming of the sultan of swing"

Dan Sultan's new album delivers on the promise of a year of scintillating live shows. By Patrick Donovan.

SOME of the biggest names in Australian music performed at the Paul Kelly tribute last weekend, including Missy Higgins, John Butler and Josh Pyke. But after the two shows at the Forum Theatre, the name on everyone's lips was Dan Sultan, who strutted, danced and sang his way through Kelly's songs Look So Fine, Feel So Low and Give in to My Love.

His performance has been treated with similar reverence by audiences at a broad range of events over the past year and a half, including Black Arm Band to Chill City, Port Fairy, the Falls and Byron Bay's Blues and Roots Festival.

And then there's his film debut in Bran Nue Dae, starring as a swaggering cowboy alongside Geoffrey Rush, Higgins and Jessica Mauboy.

''It's good to get taken out of my comfort zone, even though I don't know what my comfort zone is,'' he says, sitting in a city cafe before the Paul Kelly tribute last week. ''I suppose that will come with age as I learn more and more about myself.''

While his live performances have electrified audiences, he didn't have the recorded output to back it up - until now, with the release of Get Out While You Can.

Recorded in Melbourne by Jonathan Burnside using vintage equipment to achieve a warm and authentic sound, he mixes up big-band soul, outback country, rockabilly and acoustic love ballads.

While the previous album, Homemade Biscuits, was performed almost entirely by Sultan and his co-writer, Scott Wilson (who he plays with in the Roys), the new release is driven by the new band that has been knocking people's socks off, as well as guests Ella Hooper and Vika and Linda Bull.

''Having a band together was the biggest difference with this album,'' Sultan says.

''They're such a good live band and I really wanted to try and capture that on the record. I've matured in my arrangements, songwriting and production, so I was a lot more part of this record. I grew up on soul and rock'n'roll but Scott's introduced me to a lot of country music and underground soul and punk rock bands like the MC-5 and the Dirtbombs.''

Sultan and Wilson met hanging around bars in Williamstown about 10 years ago. ''There was a karaoke competition going around Williamstown with cash prizes, so I was hustling karaoke, singing songs like Unchained Melody and I was in Scott's local and we had some mutual friends.''

- The Age

"Sultan of soul takes a walk on fame trail with a little help from INXS"

DAN Sultan has been one of Melbourne's best-kept secrets for a while. Just this week alone, the dynamic soul singer has won four awards - two Deadly awards in Sydney on Monday, two Independent Music awards in Melbourne last night, and on Tuesday he scored his first four ARIA nominations.

This is all on the back of his stunning second album, Get Out While You Can, released late last year. But to see him perform live, you get a much better idea of what makes this indigenous 27-year-old one of the hottest performers in Australian music right now.

He's got the voice, the looks and the moves that, literally send audiences - particularly women - into a frenzy. They scream and squeal and yes, have even thrown knickers at Sultan

But our best-kept secret may be about to get out to the rest of the world - through that not-so-secret Australian act, INXS. INXS are putting the final touches on an as-yet-unnamed compilation album of their songs performed by other singers due for release later in the year.

While the band's Kirk Pengilly and Jon Farriss are keeping mum about most of the album's guests - confirmed are Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20) and Ben Harper, who has long performed the INXS song Never Tear Us Apart in his live set - but among those high-wattage names is also Dan Sultan.

Sultan performs Just Keep Walking, INXS's first hit from their self-titled debut album that was released - coincidentally - 30 years ago this month.

The exotic funk-ska edge of the original has been supercharged into a big rocking soul number that's a perfect showcase for Sultan's powerful voice, and the guitar playing of his bandmate and songwriter, Scott Wilson (who got to use a guitar once owned by Carl Perkins in the London recording session).

"It's been amazing for both Scott and myself, we're both still pinching ourselves a bit," Sultan said yesterday.

"It's an opportunity isn't it? It's something I feel pretty excited about being involved in. You just have to keep working hard though. There's all sorts of little victories along the way and this is one of them."

Farriss said Sultan was "obviously an extremely amazing talent". "You'd have to be dead not to know that this guy is going to do big things," he said.

"What's exciting about this record is that not only are there some really high profile international singers, but we're able to introduce some singers, not just local, but from other parts of the world, onto the world platform."

While Sultan wasn't familiar at first with Just Keep Walking, he said he "always loved the band and always found Michael Hutchence inspiring as a frontman."

So what do Farriss and Pengilly think Hutchence, who died in 1997, would think of this project? "I think he'd be stoked," says Pengilly. "But he'd probably be going 'Oh why didn't you use that singer?'."

INXS acknowledge they have copped plenty of criticism for continuing the band after the death of Hutchence, with other singers including Terence Trent D'Arby, Jon Stevens and reality TV show winner JD Fortune. But in this instance, it's about the songs and about other musicians who are eager to keep them alive, says Pengilly.

"I know in our early days when people used to ask us what our influences were, we'd rattle off bands; I guess now for a lot of musicians who are coming of age, they were growing up listening to us," he says. "I think it's that sort of thing where it's the right era now, the right time, where those people have grown up and are making great music. "As a creative thing, this has been one of the most amazing things I've done in my life," adds Farriss. "This is what it's all about - the songs.

"No matter which way you bend and fiddle and twist and squash, the songs are still great.

"As a producer it's great, I don't have to worry about where the songs are headed. Sure they're rearranged, and there's some key changes, but the songs are there."

Dan Sultan performs free in Federation Square tonight at 8 o’clock as part of Melbourne Music Week

- The Age

"Sultan's got the whole world in his hands"

NOT every Aboriginal artist wants to be marketed as playing world music. Dan Sultan, pictured, whose heritage is indigenous and European, is an ARIA nominee who was widely talked about as a potential rock star and headliner at the One Movement music conference.

He sings, plays soul, rock and country and is selling here and overseas for music from outside your immediate area, not music from another culture.

"I think Dan Sultan is a global superstar in the making," says Robert Horsfall, although he thinks the absence of a genre which Australians call roots music means a narrower focus may be necessary, even though Sultan's first exposure was at a WOMAD festival

"There were about 1300, 1500 people when he kicked off in this huge tent and it pretty much doubled by the end," says Horsfall.

"If anything, it's an oddity that he played WOMAD, I don't think of him as world music. Dan has everything and that's what I admire in the work he's done with [his producer and co-writer] Scott Wilson. He can sing in any style, he can dance, he looks cool, he's young, boys like him, girls love him, couples will see him."

So how do you market a Dan Sultan?

"I think I'm selling someone who could succeed quickly on that mainstream market. How will he succeed? By showing he can be as good or better than his rivals."

- Sydney Morning Herald

"Dan Sultan CD review- Get out while you can"

Is there a bigger hunk of musical, masculine talent and gorgeousness in Australian music at the moment? Has there ever been? I doubt it. Dan Sultan is a tower of appeal and ability who nonetheless — judging by the way he presents himself on his website and on album — is content to continue as an independent artist rather than try and take his music to a bigger, more lucrative mainstream audience. Nothing wrong with that, of course, if that’s how he wants to play it, but I reckon if he ever did want to reach out to that mainstream they would eat him up. That is, buy lots of his albums and spend up big on seeing him live. I’ll say a bit more about this after I talk about the album.

The album is great. It has a self-consciously fifties feel about, not just in the style of music but in the way it is recorded. The website notes that producer Jonathan Burnside used “a myriad of vintage equipment to achieve a supremely warm and genuine sound” and that’s true. That warmth hits you from the opening track, “Goddess Love”, which has a distinctly 50s matinee idol feel to it that you could easily imagine showing up on Bobby Darin or Cliff Richard album, though our Dan brings a much more contemporary, ballsy sexuality to the track than either of those guys could muster. The label “black Elvis” has often been attached to him and you can see why.

The next few songs continue in a similar vein, though become a bit rockier, or rockabillier, as they go along. ”Dingo”, in particular, does a nice job of marrying of ballad and rockabilly sounds and vocally rather unashamedly, I think, riffs off Elvis. And why not? I also love the why he ties these essentially American music forms to a distinctive Australian sensibility, by which I basically mean that the lyrics are about Australian places, sights and sounds and events. Fortunately, he does this without it ever becoming corny or jingoistic or token. It’s just who he is, and it doesn’t stop him singing about Cadiallacs and Mustangs if the need arises.

Anyway, as good as it has been to that point, the album kicks up a notch with what I think are the three best tracks on the album, “Old Fitzroy”, the title track ‘Get Out While You Can”, and then “Walk Through My Dream”. ”Old Fitzroy” is a beautiful ballad with an affecting lyric set over a decidedly dirtier guitar sound (less of the rockabilly twang) and you begin to get an idea of the latent power in Sultan’s voice. I love this track and the way it shimmers beautifully, as if suspended in midair, when the guitar hits that big tremoloed chord about halfway through. Killer. Ella Hooper’s background vocals are a perfect complement and lift the song to another level.

“Get Out While You Can” is another great ballad, this one kicking off with a nice progression on acoustic guitar and the arrangement remains sparse throughout, with the support vocals again being used to good effect. The touch here is so delicate and measured that you can’t help but admire the thought and control that went into it.

“Walk Through My Dream” is basically a ballad too, though it is raunched up with the inclusion of a horn section, and it works really well. I particularly love how the vocals sound on this one. This track has hit single written all over it, if you ask me, though (at the risk of offering gratuitous advice), I’d be a bit tempted to start slower, drop the middle eight, and build it up into a belting, full-bodied number that by the end really lets Sultan unleash on the vocals.

Which kind of brings to me what I wanted to mention about commerciality.

I’ve got no idea how Dan Sultan sees his career going, but as I suggested above, the guy has megastar written all over him. I’ve had a go at least one other Australian band for not being ambitious enough, and I can’t help but get that feeling here too. That’s not meant as criticism; it’s just meant to take note of the fact that if, by chance, he wanted to move in a slightly more commercial direction, I reckon he would have enormous success. And there isn’t much he would have to do to get there: it’s not as if he is inhabiting some weird corner of indie heaven that he’d have to break out of. The album is pretty commercial to begin with. It’d just be a matter of tweaking. The songs are there; the band is there; the voice is there; and certainly the visuals are there.

He’s the full package too, the triple threat, in that he has already ventured into movies. It was great seeing him in Bran Nue Dae, even if he was horribly under-utilised, but it does show that he could easily pursue other musical-movie roles to great effect, here and overseas.

Anyway, all that’s up to him. Whichever way he goes, I wish him well. In the meantime, what we have here is an incredibly talented guy with a fantastic new album. Buy it now so just in case he hits the big, big time you can get brownie points for saying I-knew-about-him-when.

- Johnnys in the basement

"Dan Sultan at the Prince of Wales"

Is there anything Dan Sultan can’t do? Over the past couple of years the man has appeared over every inch of the local music scene. He’s toured, supported, lined himself up on all the best festivals, and even further expanded his fan base via Bran Nue Dae.

Then there was the whole stealing-the-show thing when he appeared at the Paul Kelly tribute last November. It’s pretty easy to see how Dan Sultan’s gathered a huge bunch of faithful listeners.

Oh, and did I mention he can seriously sing and perform as well?

Opening the night’s sold out show at St Kilda’s Prince of Wales were friends of Sultan, The Hello Morning, who filled out the stage nicely with eight members. The extra couple came via an added horns section, which from the beginning brought added life to the band’s sound.

Country rock and high spirits entertained the wide arch of early comers (who only dared creep forward near the end of the set) for the band’s generous support slot of an hour. Plenty of cheerful banter from frontman Steven Clifford helped to keep things engaging, too.

The horns and the sounds of Joe Cope’s keys added real life to the guitar dominated sound that rounded out nicely. And if there’s one thing the band likes to do, it’s round things out – the final three tracks finishing up “big”, as though each could have been the last.

The Prince is certainly a packed place when sold out, but the tight crowd was more than eager as Sultan and guitarist, Scott Wilson, appeared on stage soon after The Hello Morning.

Welcoming the room and announcing that a few slow songs would start things off, Sultan began his set with new album title track, ‘Get Out While You Can’. The opener was certainly a subtle way to kick things off, but showed off the power and beauty in Sultan’s voice.

The slow start was not about to carry through the next hour and a half though, and before long Sultan’s brigade had matched the numbers of the support.

Story-telling and jokes made up the between-song banter and spotless vocals and big moves made up the tracks themselves - as well as heaps of rollicking guitar on the likes of ‘Dingo’ and hefty horn accompaniment of the likes of ‘Crazy’.

The set was certainly about Sultan’s new second album, with few songs from Homemade Biscuits making the cut. Set staple, ‘This Land Is Mine’ (a Kelly/Carmody cover), did make an appearance mid-set and was delivered by Sultan and Wilson with real rock prowess.

What Sultan does best, however, is infuse soul. In a lively regard, ‘Letter’ topped the list, leaving not a person still in the whole room, whilst the vocally immersing ‘Never Let You Down’ had more people focused on absorbing Sultan’s big notes than tapping their toes.

The end of the set was all-out chaos – aurally extravagant and visually awesome (as far as “the moves” are concerned, Sultan’s got em). A couple of older songs finally got their moment, with ‘Voices’ and the always delightful ‘Your Love is Like a Song’ ensuring people danced away the set’s finale.

But if those songs had raised the roof, it was the encore that blew it off. The massive sounds of ‘Cadillac and a Mustang’ really got feet moving and the final song, ‘Money’ took the energy even higher with hearty call and response between Sultan and the crowd.

The man knows how to leave a crowd wanting more – the energy in the room lingering as DJ Ken Eval continued the soulful soundtrack to the remaining dancers.

This might well have been the last “small scale” show Melbourne will see of Sultan for a while. Gone are the days of Evelyn gigs; he’ll be hitting the Forum Theatre in June – a big step indeed – so those who were at the Prince can count themselves pretty lucky.

- The Dwarf

"Port Fairy Review Beat Magazine"

“The highlight of the entire weekend, however, was seeing the phenomenally talented Dan Sultan play live on three separate occasions. Dan, who is blessed with a voice like velvet, possesses a magnetic stage presence that demands the audience’s attention. Sunday evening’s performance, accompanied by his six-piece band, would rank as one of the best gigs I have ever witnessed. It was almost as if the spirit of Elvis, Johnny Cash, James Brown and Sam Cooke were channeling through him as he brought maximum soul to the stage. Dan embodied all that is great, spirited and vibrant about this festival of festivals. Roll on 2008”! - - Graham Blackley

"Spiegeltent Review"

Remember where you first heard Dan Sultan sing? You will. For me it was a glimpse at last year's Sydney Festival followed by a religious experience in a hot, sweaty, pumping Famous Spiegeltent a few weeks ago. With a voice that is equal parts Archie Roach and Otis Redding, and hips that have been inherited from Elvis Presley, Sultan and band blew away all and sundry. Homemade Biscuits was recorded and released some two years ago, but due to a strong stance of Independence, is only now making its way to the wider audience. Along with guitarist and co-writer Scott Wilson, Dan Sultan comfortably traverses pop-reggae with Whip on Hide, raw-hide country - Lonesome Tears - and a heart-wrenching finish to the album with the simple guitar-and-voice tale of his mother's stolen-generation story Roslyn - a song the equal of anything Archie or Paul Kelly have ever written. Throw in the albums opener Your Love is Like a Song, the best soul-stompin', brass-belting number this side of Motown/Stax and there can be no excuse for not liking Dan Sultan. Rarely does an important, outstanding talent introduce himself as impressively as Dan Sultan has- By - Chris Peken


Homemade Biscuits released 2005
Get out while you can released 2009
Cannout Buy my Soul (the songs of Kev Karmody)
Before too long (songs of Paul Kelly)
Bran Nue Day (soundtrack)
Long Gone Whistle: Songs Of Maurice Frawley



Dan picked up the following awards in 2010
ARIA’s – Best blues and roots album (Get out while you can) he is nominated for Best Independent release (Get out while you can) & Male Artist of the year- to be announcement Sunday 7th November 2010.

Deadly Awards: Single Release of the Year (Letter) & Male Artist of the Year

AIR Awards - Best Independent Artist and Best Independent Blues and Roots Album (Get Out While You Can)

Dan Sultan was Born in 1983 in Alice Springs [Central Australia] to an Irish father and Aboriginal mother, Dan Sultan was raised in Melbourne.

Dan was exposed to music while living in remote Yundemu, 300 kilometers north-west of Alice Springs in the Tanami desert – Warlpiri country, where his Irish father was working for the Aboriginal Legal Service
Long been drawn to song and dance, one of his earliest memories is as a three year old, sitting around a fire in Yundemu with 60 to 70 Warlpiri elders and watching everyone dancing and singing. “I remember sitting next to one elder and he handed me some clap sticks and everyone encouraged me to get up and dance. When I came back to Melbourne I used to put on little shows at my school, pretending to play the didgeridoo. I really enjoy performing and I have ever since that dancing circle in the Tanami Desert”, says Dan.

Back in Melbourne, he recalls being taken by his mum to her friends’ rockabilly band that used to play at Fitzroy’s infamous Black Cat café. “They’d be playing afternoon sessions and I remember watching the lead singer and thinking he was one of the coolest people in the world. I thought, ‘That’s what I’d like to do.’”

Infused with indigenous sounds of central Australia and surrounded by Melbourne’s soul and rock and roll, Dan began writing songs at ten years of age. A friend of his mum’s gave him an old clapped-out electric guitar and by his teens was playing in local punk bands.

In the year 2000 he struck up what was to become a friendship and a musical partnership with guitarist and songwriter Scott Wilson in Williamstown during a Karaoke competition.

“I needed cash and there was a karaoke competition going round to all the local pubs and first prize was $500, so I was going to all the pubs entering it. But the woman who ran it, her daughter kept winning first prize singing Beyonce Knowles numbers…”

Dan had to settle for the second prize of $250 but his real fortune came that night when he met Scott Wilson, who became a mentor and musical collaborator. In his words “we both made each other’s songs better.”

The meeting with country and punk rock loving Scott Wilson led to the idea for the album “Homemade Biscuits” (co-written by Wilson). Performed almost entirely by Dan and Scott, together they refined and recorded the debut album in 2006, independently released with the help of John Butler’s Seed program (an initiative to help Australian artists from any background, creating art and music across any genre, to establish themselves as self sustained, professional artists).

On the back of the debut album (Homemade Biscuits) Dan Sultan’s first major award came in 2007 when he won Single Release of The Year for “Your Love is Like a Song” at the Deadly Awards – simultaneously receiving public recognition from his people and by the music industry.

‘Homemade Biscuits’ caught the attention of legendary muso Paul Kelly who invited Dan Sultan & Scott Wilson to participate in a special Kev Carmody Tribute Concert “Cannot Buy My Soul” in 2008.

“[Dan Sultan is] an exciting talent - a strong songwriter with a soulful, expressive voice. He really crackles on stage. I smashed my tambourine to bits singing with him on Cannot Buy My Soul. I haven’t done that since the Manzil Room [Kings Cross] in 1985.” Paul Kelly.

Dan has since gone on to join powerful collaborations with Kev Carmody and become the youngest member of the Black Arm Band (a 28 piece ensemble of indigenous artists)performing around Australia and internationally.
It is these performances that are amongst Sultan’s career highlights and they are indeed testimony to his commitment to his people and the band’s dedication to quality music and performance.

It is something that is really humbling,” Sultan said of playing with the Black Arm Band. “These are the musicians I grew up with … It represents the struggle these people have gone through just to be able to perform as singers, dancers and actors. They are really only now getting recognition.”

Despite the success of “Homemade Biscuits”, Dan opted against rushing straight back into the studio and following his instincts, turned down several major labels, preferring the freedom of complete autonomy over the direction of his career. In 2009 Dan and Scott felt the time was right to head back to the studio to record their second album – this time, with a new band and guest vocalists.

“Get out while you can” was recorded in Melbourne by Jonathan Burnside using vintage equipment to ach