CDs and Reviews

Dirty White Music
Review by Kees van Wee
Heaven, Netherlands 2006

Astonishingly good Australian

When he was 13 years old, he heard Muddy Waters and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up.  Adrian Kosky loves "simple music", as he calls it.  "Less Is More, elegance is born of simplicity, bluegrass kicks arse," we can read on his website.  A little bit misleading, as there is hardly any bluegrass to be found on the second album of this late-developer from Daylesford, Victoria, Australia.  What we do find though is a lot of countryblues, folk and country music, in short, music from the heart.  Played with traditional instruments like guitar, dobro, mandolin, and mouth organ, and sung with a beautiful voice.  Kosky sounds warm as David Munyon, bluesy as Chris Smither and relaxed as Geoff Muldaur.  Big names, that he easily lives up to.  And when we read that there was only one person other than Kosky who participated on this beautifully sounding record (Richard Pleasance, who was also responsible for the production) the admiration gives way to astonishment.  Fourteen sublime, pure songs that make the hairs of the back of your neck stand up.  Luckily I still was able to incorporate Dirty White Music on my list of favourite records of 2005. (Listen and order via

Kees' Top 10 Albums of 2005 (published on page 8 of Heaven 1 2006)
 1.  Nels Andrews - Sunday Shoes
 2.  ThaMuseMeant - Silver Seed
 3.  Thee More Shallows - More Deep Cuts
 4.  Françoiz Breut - Une Saison Volée
 5.  Adrian Kosky - Dirty White Music
 6.  Amadou & Mariam - Dimanche A Bamako
 7.  Iron and wine - Woman King
 8.  Arizona Amp and Alternator - Arizona Amp And Alternator
 9.  Sam Phillips - A Boot and a Shoe
10.  Sufjan Stevens - Illinois

The High Side of The Low End
Review by Del Day
Americana-UK 2006

Frivolity and fragility go hand in hand in the mountains it seems..

The mountain dulcimer is one hell of a weird beast. Looking like half a sideboard perched on your knees, it kind of resembles a primitive pedal steel without either the mother of pearl inlay or the bright chrome pick-ups. Yet it’s an instrument that is equally as versatile in the right hands. “The High Side Of The Low End” is effectively two albums in one – the first a highly amusing hillbilly jaunt through the bars and backwater towns of the American South; the second a much gentler reflection on life’s excesses and pains. Tracks such as the self-parodying ageist rebellion of “Hair In A Can,” to the ‘this is what I am, and I kinda like it’ stoicism of “Hillbilly Genocide,” Kosky offers a brand of rootsy swamp rock that would provide the ideal soundtrack to a day on the Glades on a gator hunt. It’s a hoot for sure.. Yet contrast this frivolity with the stark rural landscape of “Table Hill Road” or the poignant slab of rustic reality that is “Small Country Town” and it's clear that alongside the six pack and gun rack goes a great deal of soul-searching. Kosky is joined by Richard Pleasance, who, besides taking care of most of the arrangements, also plays guitars, drums, percussion, bass, marimba and, as Kosky calls it, junk. In the sleevenotes there are a few telling words on the mountain dulcimer. “Some dulcimers sound like a guitar that lives in the mountains,” Kosky notes. “Some sound like a freight train, others have a deep twangin’ kind of funk.” On “The High Side Of The Low End" Kosky demonstrates that it’s possible to get one that can sound like all three. As he so eloquently puts it, “They can drone, wail, bend and trance, make ya boogie, get up and dance.”

The High Side of The Low End
Review by Leo Kattestaart
Alt -Country, Netherlands 2006

It was only at the beginning of this year that we reviewed Adrian Kosky’s second album, ‘Dirty White Music’. Unknowingly in this album lay the groundwork for the next. Now our attention is on his follow-up album. And here a certain alertness is needed, since this sympathetic singer songwriter from down-under proved with his previous album ‘Dirty White Music’ that he is no amateur.

Kosky is first and foremost a craftsman in search of perfection. And in that approach hides a danger. Generally speaking in the craftsmanship of perfection the danger of too perfect, too beautiful, too finished. However, with Kosky this is not the case. He knows how to create, or leave, a sufficient amount of rough edges in this truly beautiful work, a work dominated by banjo and various mountain dulcimers. This is also the case with his newest self composed album ‘The High Side and The Low End’. References? Basically just ordinary folk blues in optimal form. But in relation to atmosphere and ambiance occasionally think Guy Clarke (opening track ‘Dodgy Train’) and also think, in relation to the perfection, Jeff Talmadge. In the title track we even discover a touch of the Rolling stones.

Together, with multi instrumentalist Richard Pleasance (guitars, drums, percussion, marimba and bass) Kosky created eleven excellent songs, all in-house. There is, however, a difference with ‘Dirty White Music’ in that it takes a little more playtime for the gift to be truly revealed. In that way ‘The High Side of The Low End’ is a little less accessible and, at first listening, a little less interesting/intense. However, the allowed surplus of playtime, proves that Adrian Kosky has once again created a beautiful album. He has arrived.

After the release of ‘Dirty White Music’ Adrian Kosky spend quite some time in the United States, from Jacksonville to Seattle, from Memphis to New Orleans. The various influences he absorbed in these travels have been used to good effect in his exciting ‘Small Country Town’ as the track which most excited me.

Kosky states two ways of travel: ‘Into the world and into the heart’. With his ‘The High Side of The Low End’ Kosky shows us both ways of travelling. Excellent album.

The High Side of The Low End
Review by Freddy Cellis
Rootstime BE Belgium 2006

Since his debut with his album ‘Frozen with Intent’, during 2002, Adrian Kosky has continued to create an interesting collection of work. After this debut, plus the ‘Dirty White Music’ album of last year, ‘The High Side of The Low End’ is his third album in just four years time.

This Australian Multi-instrumentalist plays (on this new album for Sound Vault Records) eleven new numbers in the, for him, trusted combination of folk, country and blues. On this album Adrian has again relied on his trusted producer Richard Pleasance who makes musical contributions with guitar, drums, percussion, bas and marimba. Pleasance is a musician who is able to play laid-back music while at the same time making it exciting and intense. As I wrote in the review for ‘Dirty White Music’, Adrian can best be compared with people such as: the warmth of David Munyon, the bluesy sounds of Chris Smithers and the relaxed attitude of Geoff Muldaur. He also has a supple, slightly hoarse but warm baritone, and succeeds to create intense country-blues music, with a few necessary rough edges still remaining.

His medium tempo songs and ballads are accompanied by modest instrumentals which are based on all sorts of mountain dulcimers, supported by Richard Pleasance. Adrian lays down the accents with dobro, harp and guitar playing. They underline his sung-talked texts where, in some of his numbers he follows in the tradition of Townes van Zandt and Guy Clark.

It seems more and more that Adrian Kosky will arrive, within a very short time, in the top ranks of the singer songwriters guild. Kosky doesn’t only have a restful, relaxed bronzed voice, but is also a distinguished poet who, with his subtle words, creates in his songs a continuous ambience of melancholy and longing. In this he is a witness not a participant.

Occasionally some of his instrumental tracks, which feature his dulcimer and/or his electric dobro, are somewhat more fierce and vivid, which underline his considered texts and provides just the right relief which is missing in some of his other songs.

His storytelling side seems to come easy, but in that lies the artistry. Highlites on this album follow one another with breathtaking pace. Songs which are all recorded in Adrian’s home town of Daylesford.

‘The High Side of the Low End’ is an album which is easy on the ear and with which Adrian Kosky at last earns a well deserved breakthrough. Simply Beautiful.

The High Side of the Low End
Review by Jeff Glorfield
The Age EG 2006

Feel-good music needn't be simple-minded, and warm and gentle do not equate with weak.  Adrian Kosky knows these things, and on his new CD he offers up 11 warm and gentle yet powerful little stories about places, people, lives lived and food, laced with humour that is wry and wise and maybe a little bittersweet.  But that's life -- you take it as it comes.  Kosky is an internationally acclaimed exponent of the mountain dulcimer, but when he's home he hangs his hat in north-western Victoria.  Working again with Richard Pleasance in his Daylesford studio, the pair blend elements of folk and bluegrass with hot licks of blues, maybe some Celtic flavour and a distinctly Australian sense of fun.  Kosky sings in a mellow, easy voice and adds banjo and harmonica to his dulcimer, while Pleasance handles the guitars, drums and everything else, along with sterling production.  Kosky's songs are full of nuance; behind such seemingly light titles as Hair in a Can and Small Country Town are the thoughts of a man facing up to the realities of his own ageing and the hard choices his kids face growing up in this world.  It's the real deal.

Dirty White Music
Review by Jeff Glorfeld
The Age EG 5/8/2005

Nestled in the forest west of Melbourne, between town and country, tiny Daylesford is a mix of long-established farming families and tree-change city migrants plus thousands of weekend wanderers. It's the right place for Adrian Kosky to craft his unique brand of music, a modern take on traditional folk blues with a kind and gentle, almost innocent feel. He plays a range of stringed acoustic instruments such as dulcimer, mandolin, dobro and guitar, but there is no fret-flaying pyrotechnics; the essence of Kosky's music is simplicity. He calls his songs "organic", which is difficult to define but easy to understand when listening. Richard Pleasance, formerly of Boom Crash Opera and composer of the Sea Change theme, produced the record in his Daylesford studio and adds depth and texture with an array of instruments including electric guitar and backing vocals. Kosky's purposeful, less-is-more playing is balanced by his singing, which is all warmth and honey, with a pleasing vibrato reminiscent of Country Joe McDonald at his best. Songs such as Broken Windscreen and Climbing the Ladder are superb, but it's all Australian, dirty white music.

Dirty White Music
Review by Lynne Pettinger
Americana, UK 2005

Australian country blues? Why not. The second album by Australian multi-
instrumentalist Adrian Kosky is something to behold. It's a folk-country-blues 

mélange with charm, skill and intrigue. Kosky likes his traditional American folk instruments, playing more sorts of dulcimer than you might have known even existed, along with dobro, harp, guitar and more. This doesn't overwhelm the songs, as might have been a risk for someone with a clear expertise (and even a university scholarship in dulcimer playing). The arrangements are simple and nuanced making the right sorts of nods to history and tradition without being consumed with replicating the past. 

Album openers 'I pushed your barrow' and 'Damed if I do' share a real blues feel, one that crops up again and again, including on a verging on the comic 'Other people's blues' . Other songs feel firmly rooted in a British folk tradition ('If I was a writer', 'The bigger picture', Climbing the ladder'. There's even a moment of sounding Australian (albeit, on 'Born to be', like the Go-betweens). Whilst making a nod to Dylan on 'Fear', Adrian Kosky can resist also showing his humour again, listing (as so many of us do) his he hope he 

wont get caught when not wearing underpants, or worse. This humour, along with a political and social sensibility makes him an interesting observer of the world around him. Maybe its because we're too cynical to listen to celebratory songs, but 'my town' and dirty white music seem to be the weaker tracks, partly because they rock out just a bit more than either Kosky's gentle voice, or his delicate instruments really suit. Perhaps he can't quite be bothered to sing out loud, or doesn't really want to show off. Nonetheless, its an album of subtlety and talent. Worth a listen.

Frozen With Intent
Reviewed by Bernard Williams
Trad and Now 

May 2003 edition

The trouble with having listened to parodies of blues songs [like Cliché Blues by Mic Conway’s band National Junk Band] is that it can be hard to take some blues-oriented offerings seriously and not to perceive them as unintentional parodies. But then, perhaps the answer is to not take them too seriously anyway and to happily treat some of them as parodies, intentional or not?!
Adrian Kosky’s offering has its share of the above [“Mercedes Benz Blues”, “Big Brained Woman” and, to a lesser extent, “I Got a Loss Here Lord”] and they point to a musician who can certainly play and sing the blues, But this CD also so much more.
Whether it is the three blues pieces, the gentle introspection of “Waking Up Older” and If You Don’t Want To Love Me Now”, the warm country blues feel of “That Thing”, the almost anthemic simplicity of “Frozen With Intent” or the all too short happy instrumental “Big Room Boogie”, these original compositions are delightfully varied and downright entertaining. One of my favourite tracks is the sparsely arranged “In My Barn”, which speaks to me about blokes and sheds- at one level.
Kosky’s singing and playing [guitar, dobro, bass drum, percussion, blues harp, cabassa, mountain dulcimer harmonica and foot stomp] are variously supplemented, complemented and complimented by backing vocals, percussion, bass and piano. The end product is a musical collection that has been more than competently arranged, performed and engineered.
Curled up near the fire, with a warm and/or warming drink on a grey Sunday afternoon, listening to Adrian Kosky left me anything but frozen.

Frozen With Intent
reviewed by Jim Low
Folk Australia 2003

Adrian Kosky is a singer-songwriter living in Daylesford, Victoria. He is an accomplished acoustic musician, playing guitar, dobro and harmonica. In the concluding track Kosky treats us to some mountain dulcimer. On four of the songs Kosky is capably assisted with extra instrumentation and vocals. 

The CD begins in a solid, confident fashion with the blues and gospel sounding I Got A Loss Here Lord. Kosky has a very comfortable feel for the blues both in his playing and vocal delivery.

The songs are interesting in their variety of musical approaches. There is, for example, the reflective Waking Up Older with its haunting, repetitious melody. Then there is the fuller sounding, catchy song of dissatisfaction That Thing. The spirited Mercedes Benz Blues carries a warning that things are not always what they seem. The concluding Big Room Boogie is a brief and breezy instrumental.

The melancholy, confessional In My Barn demonstrates the effectiveness of a good melody. The title track Frozen With Intent, a song of procrastination, is enhanced by a very attractive piano and viola accompaniment.

The CD has an overall reflective, earthy feel. As Kosky says in his song In My Barn:

The songs of wood and steel
Wrap me in a country feel.

The attractively designed CD booklet and casing help reinforce this feeling.