Kirin Callinan

(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Am I A Woman Yet? (2008), 4.5/10
Embracism (2013), 5/10
Bravado (2017), 4/10

Australian singer-songwriter Kirin Callinan had already recorded with the debut album Mercy Arms (2008) of the Mercy Arms, fronted by Thom Moore, when he ventured solo with Am I A Woman Yet? (2008) that collects home demos, notably the demented chant Meoxhwa (halfway between David Peel and Taj Mahal) next to the free-form instrumental interlude Marty's Theme and the ugly lament of Mines Tonight.

Callinan then joined the Dreamlanders, formed by singer-songwriter Jack Ladder (aka Timothy Rogers), playing guitar on Hurtsville (Spunk, 2011) and Playmates (Self Portrait, 2014).

His second solo album, Embracism (2013), was a more professional affair but also wildly inconsistent (and damaged by controversial lyrics). It begins badly with an amateurish imitation of Nine Inch Nails' industrial rock, Halo, and it ends even more poorly, with the failed psychobilly number Love Delay. But along the way there are moments of genuine intrigue. Embracism is sung in a Ian Dury-ian howl but arranged like the soundtrack to a sci-fi film. Come On USA simultaneously spastic and bombastic like a Frank Zappa gag. Victoria M. exudes Bowie-esque grandiloquence and the theatrical orchestral ballad Chardonnay Sean belongs to the tradition of Broadway musicals. His experimental alter-ego is represented by the frenzied cacophonous dance-pop of Stretch It Out, while his derivative ego indulges in the stately country ode Landslide and in cloning the Sisters Of Mercy in Way II War. Callinan comes through as a music-hall artist who can appropriate many different genres for his comedy skits.

Despite absurd lyrics that can be both clownish and offensive, Bravado (2017) samples different styles with little or no originality: My Moment throws in staccato disco-music a` la David Guetta, while pop-soul ditties Family Home and Tellin' Me This evoke a male version of Whitney Huston without the vocal skills. Big Enough is an odd hybrid mixing pop crooner Alex Cameron, whistler Molly Lewis and rock screamer Jimmy Barnes over an old-fashioned house beat of the 1990s. The grand ballad S.A.D. is as bombastic as tedious, and Friend of Lindy Morrison manage to sound even more amateurish. Bravado resurrects the worst nightmares of moronic synth-pop of the 1980s. Living Each Day is generic radio-friendly pop-rock with not even a decent refrain. Yes, the great James Chance peppers the grotesque funk mayhem of Down 2 Hang; but it's way too little to justify this ridiculously derivative and uninspired "music". Quite simply, Callinan's musical skills are severely limited.

Return To Center (2019) collects 12 covers, notably a wildly emotional version of the Waterboys' The Whole of the Moon (1985).

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