Bill Jackson has firmly established himself over the past few years as one of Australia’s finest singer/songwriters. Steel & Bone shared Folk Alliance Australia ‘Radio Presenters Album of the Year’ in 2008 with Gurrumul and his 2011 album Jerilderie was enthusiastically received by critics and audiences alike; so much so that the song ‘Something in Blue’ was covered and released on legendary Americana artist David Olney’s most recent album When the Deal Goes Down. Olney has written for performers including Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Tim O’Brien.
Jackson tours exclusively with Pete Fidler, one of Australia’s finest musicians. They have toured the US four times together: American publication acousticmusic.com described Fidler as “ranking up there with a handful of people on my best of dobro/resonator players” and of Jackson and Fidler being “joined at the hip” in a “symbiotic musical relationship”.
The Wayside Ballads Project was conceived during 2014 by Bill and his co-writing brother, Ross. Since his last release Jerilderie (2011), the pair had been writing extensively. A plan was hatched to record 30 songs over a relatively short period of time between two continents under the guise of The Wayside Ballads. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘Wayside’ as the edge of the road, figuratively meaning to be set aside or discarded. The Jackson brothers’ songs have been described as topical, historical and most things in between, populated by characters outside of the mainstream – in many ways somewhat extraordinarily ordinary but always real. Rather than have them fall off the edge, the brothers wrote these ballads to give them a voice and a history.
The Wayside Ballads Vol 1 was always going to be a mostly electric record due to the group of songs chosen and production was handed over to friend and talented Melbourne musician/producer Shannon Bourne. It was successfully launched at The Caravan Music Club in Melbourne in August 2015 before Pete and Bill headed off to the US to tour and record Vol. 2 with Thomm Jutz in Nashville, TN. They first met Jutz back in 2008, an incredibly talented musician, engineer, songwriter and producer who has toured Australia twice as a sideman to Nanci Griffith and Mary Gauthier. Jutz saw this batch of songs as a string band record and so The Wayside Ballads Vol 2 was born – along with this song.
Bill explains: “When Ross sent me the almost complete lyric to this song, he sent this with it: ‘Double Shot’ explores the real meaning of loss and hurt of a failed love. The make believe pretence of this experience delivered by someone who has never really felt that deep pain, however make of it what you will. I wrote the last verse and twisted it a little.” In The Sydney Morning Herald, Paul Smith wrote: “Bill Jackson’s sixth studio album is more like poetry delivered with a soft county lining. It’s an approach which allows Jackson to align the vibe of his song with the sentiments therein. As he wistfully laments: ‘Pour me a double shot, I need this pain to hurt’ in ‘Double Shot’ the heartbreak and emotion is palpable.”
Shane Howard said: “There is no iTunes category for the type of music Bill Jackson creates and performs. It’s not just folk, or country, or Americana, or blues, yet it contains elements of all those genres. Undaunted, Bill continues on… constantly winning new audiences in Australia, the USA and beyond. He’s coming from the grass roots, from the ground up, from the struggle of the 99% – his songs are gritty and real and come at you like a hammer, ringin’ in the mornin’. Take it or leave it, he’s telling it straight up.”
The video for ‘Double Shot’ was shot, directed and edited by Melbourne filmmakers Sebastian Broadbent and Marleena Forward.
The Wayside Ballads Vol 2 was nominated for an Age Music Victoria Award in 2016 (Best Country Album) and is available through Laughing Outlaw Records.