Neil Robertson
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Neil Robertson

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 1990 | SELF

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | SELF
Established on Jan, 1990
Solo Rock Singer/Songwriter

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"Wake Up The Dead Album Review"

"The 2007 CD “Wake up the dead” is the latest in a long line of Melbourne-based Neil Robertson’s independently released CDs, and embodies a high level of musical acumen arising from his many years of writing, performing and recording.

There are songwriters I call “street-writers”, whose songs reflect urban life in poignant vignettes. Paul Kelly is one of these, and so too, I have discovered, is Neil Robertson. The twelve tracks on “Wake up the dead” give us an insight into the whimsical and slightly fatalistic urban philosophy of Robertson. Through his generally well-crafted lyrics we glimpse the ambivalence of his spirituality and his “looking down from above” observations of contemporary life.

I enjoyed walking the night street images of Melbourne in “City of the Free”, I endorsed Robertson’s scorn for the cult of celebrity in “Wake up the Dead”, and I acknowledge that the pragmatism of having to pay the rent subsumes nobler global ideals in “Change the World”. This is a lyrically compelling CD, with some magic lines, such as “I spent time in a metal can in the heart of a solar melt”, and of turning the TV on to “shed some light to rest my eyes upon”. Curiously, within the broader sweep of brilliance we also discover some rare clunkers, like “I’ve lightened my load”: how many times have I heard that line before?

On this CD, Robertson is supported variously by Nick Carrafa on kit, Pete Howell on bass, Chris Pain on harmonica and Moira Tyers on fiddle. Moira also contributes backing vocals, as do Kelly Auty, Wendy Ealey and Leticia Maher. Robertson’s guitar is the thread that links these tracks, though he also plays all other instruments. This is a tight and tasteful group of musicians, who strike me as having a keen rapport with Robertson’s music. Musicianship is of high quality, as are the arrangements. Robertson has an expressive voice, he sings with confidence, and (perhaps unsurprisingly) with a strong concordance to the lyrical content of each track. I detect some vocal influences (for example, a hint of Tom Petty), but importantly, the uniqueness of Robertson is dominant. The backing vocals are skilfully arranged and a great complement to the sonic landscape of the CD (though they are slightly hazardous on “Beggar’s Gold”).

The overall recording is great. The crisp richness of Robertson’s guitar shines (a credit to Joe Ferguson who recorded it), and the clarity of the mixing gives all instruments a space in which to shine. The kit is clean and deftly not overplayed, and mandolin and fiddle, both easy to butcher in a recording, retain their acoustic vibrancy. I might have preferred to hear the bass given more presence in the mix; it tends to play a definite background role. This, though, I guess, is better than too much! I was pleased to hear a distinct lack of technological gimmickry in the recording, with only one lapse being the panning of the phrase “circular song” at the end of the CD, and I can forgive that quite easily; it kind of makes sense.

This is a CD I enjoyed listening to very much, and will join my list of favourites. It really is a wonderful creation, and it has been my pleasure to review it. - Mike Raine, 2008"
- Mike Raine, Indie-CDs


"Wake Up The Dead Album Review"

Wake Up The Dead is the debut full length CD (after a total of 7 EPs and LPs between 91 and 2003) of Australian singer/songwriter Neil Robertson. It contains 12 tracks and runs for 50 minutes of contemporary music in the singer/songwriter and folk rock music genre.
He writes excellent melodies and powerful lyrics concerning his vision on living today. For the album he got the support of a number of Melbourne based musicians, including Nick Carrafa on drums and Pete Howell on bass, sometimes completed with Chris Pain (harmonica).
Neil himself sings and plays several instruments (including guitars, mandolin, keyboards, percussion). To refine his vocal pallet, he can also count on four ladies for the backing vocal. With three of them, Wendy Ealy, Leticia Maher and Moira Tyers, he has also formed the acoustic quartet UNSUNG since 2006.
On the CD, which was launched in March 2008, Neil sings about everyday realities and how he himself experiences these. He is very strong in his lyrics and writes strong colourful music. He has already won a songwriting Award (in 2006) at the Maldon Folk Music Festival.
"And I'm feeling okay now I've lightened up my load" he sings in the uptempo opener Rocking Down My Road. And thats a good and necessary thing when you learn how observing and critical he is in the presence of a lot events, situations and human behaviour this century. Along with Change The World, Wake Up the Dead (the title track) contains a good example of this too: "Kingmakers spin gold from fake celebrity and every nobody in there is somebody". In City or the Free he brings his experience of Melbourne by night. The the input of the violin this song turns it into something more folky. With the very lyrical Celebration he won the songwriting award in 2006.
The harmonica colours the following two tracks, which in moments (in Goodness Gracious) creates a bluesy environment. Fortunately there are also some love songs to listen to. The quiet What She Wants brings rest and a chance to hear the tender side of Neil, whereas the up tempo Kryptonite paints love with beautiful vocal arrangements. On the sober The Right Side Of The Road, Neil plays everything himself, and the song reminds me a little of the former work of Ray Davies. On the last two songs, the violin ensures an alternation in the feeling and colour and gives Beggar's Gold a strong folky feel.
In short, a very good songwriter, who lives with open eyes and heart. He has made an album with beautiful arrangements and vocal harmonies!
(jug) www.rootstime.be
- Rootstime, Online Roots Music Mag (Dutch) - April 2008


"Wake Up The Dead Album Review"

"Wake Up The Dead" by Neil Robertson is an excellent acoustic-based adult rock CD. Neil's songwriting is at the front of the list of the many admirable qualities of this CD, Neil's lyrics are clever and relevant, and his melodies are memorable and catchy. The musicianship and Neil's vocals are very good, and the band is tight. The production is clean, and well-suited for Neil's songwriting style, nicely mixing rock, pop and folk. “ Rocking Down My Road” builds to a memorable, harmony-filled chorus, and features excellent lyrics. “Goodness Gracious” effectively adds harmonica and banjo to the mix to give the song more depth. “Change The World” is one of our favorite tracks, with relevant lyrics and an excellent build from nice acoustic verses to a harmony and hook-filled chorus. If you enjoy folk rock singer-songwriters, you'll enjoy this CD.-RadioIndy Reviewer Team - RadioIndy (USA) May 2008


Discography

Kings and Thieves debut album due early 2012.

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Bio

Kings and Thieves are an all original three-piece rock band from Melbourne, Australia. The trio was formed in mid 2010 by John Goss, David Megna and Neil Robertson, all prolific songwriters with an immediate chemistry between them.

This experienced band of tight and tasteful musicians play powerful and melodic rock/pop with international appeal and stadium filling potential.

The sound is huge and fluid, blending a tight rhythm section of acoustic guitar and drums with soaring electric and slide guitars. On some of the more laid back tunes, acoustic guitar, drums and bass sit beautifully together. Robertson’s strong heartfelt vocals and lyrics complete the picture.

The band has a super tight live show and plenty of local Melbourne gigs under their belt. The quality of the material has caught a lot of attention and their fan base is expanding rapidly.

The band is currently recording its debut album for release in early 2012.