The Last Polaroid on CD

by Charles Jenkins

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about

It’s hard to listen to “The Last Polaroid” in the gloom of a chilly West London morning without thinking of the classics — the Beatles White album, Ray Davies at his “Lola” era sardonic peak, Neil Finn and Paul Kelly. It’s also impossible to listen without being immediately transported to modern inner city Melbourne in all its esoteric charm, sophistication, warmth and wit. At 10am, I reach for a flat white but the album really calls for a case of good red — a dirty martini or two, a celebration — let’s be people about it!

Charles Jenkins’ best songs are vaguely conceptual, adopting the vernacular of a romantic poet, a bushranger, an urban troubadour, a rock star, a father, a lover — but are driven by the voice of perfectly ordinary bloke-dom, looking on helplessly as humanity unzips all around — an everyman with the distinguishing gift of otherness. His rich vocals here are both his most tender and most insistent, the tempos hover between a swagger, a strut and a clip. Davey Lane’s razor sharp guitars buzz and slice through every track, serving up perfect portions of pop like fresh sushi, urgently nailing intervals and harmonies with the soaring power and classicism of Ziggy-era Mick Ronson — one of the greatest guitarists of his generation the perfect foil for one of the greatest of
contemporary songwriters. Dave Milne’s bravura piano playing and his nuanced, crisp drumming, along with Art Star’s fluid, fat bass give the Zhivagos an engine room that’s every bit as dexterous as the songwriting.

The melodic and lyrical ingenuity on show here is that of a songwriter at the very peak of his powers. The creeping descending and ascending cadences, the languid harmonies; the vocal tenderness and warm introspection of the lyrics, the questing atmosphere and musical inventiveness which pervades every track grips you like an electro magnet. Like all the best albums, this is a record that yields something fresh and transporting with every listen, and warrants
a good many. The birdsong and brass on “Cartwheels” makes you want to yelp with pleasure. The faint, chiming piano shadowing short circuiting guitars on the crunching title track leave you narcotically euphoric. The haunted sleaze of “Kathleen” makes you want to meet Kathleen on a hot moonlit night somewhere, with a bottle of gin and roll ups.

The best songs, the great songs, sound like you’ve heard them before — or have been waiting to hear them. The best songs, the great songs, are not songs, they are black holes, they suck you inside until you become them. This is an album of such songs. The lyrics draw you in with the intimacy of a letter home, yet perplexingly leave you nodding your head in agreement, as if these thoughts are your thoughts too, you just haven’t had them yet.

“I’m a thief, I’m a liar, I throw friendships on the fire…. everyone loves me,” he confesses on “Everyone Loves Me.” How lucky we are, in this age of narcissism, to have amongst us a songwriting star of such finesse, grace and humanity who is himself no narcissist. The equivalent of a paperback book you simply can not put down, “The Last Polaroid” is a record you should never, ever stop playing.

Joe Penhall – playwright, screenwriter and Olivier Award winning writer of Sunny Afternoon: The Kinks Musical London 2017

credits

released July 14, 2017

Written and performed by Charles Jenkins David Andrew Milne Art Star and Davey Lane
Extra musical muscle provided by Douglas Lee Robertson and Nick Thayer. Trumpets by Jack Howard
Recorded in various second bedrooms, basements and bungalows Melbourne 2016-2017
Produced and Mixed by Nick Thayer
Mastered by Colin Wynne at Thirty Mill Studios
All songs © Charles Jenkins / Control, except High Above The River © Milne / Jenkins / Star / Control

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Charles Jenkins Melbourne, Australia

Charles Jenkins is a Melbourne songwriter/musician, producer and performer with more than 30 years experience in the Australian Music Industry.
He has released 14 albums, toured Europe and the USA several times and been nominated for two ARIA awards with the Icecream Hands. In 2014, his sixth solo album Too Much Water In The Boat won the AGE/Music Victoria award for best folk/roots album.
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Track Name: The Last Polaroid
May ghost ships sail into your empty wine bottles
May you know what to do when the time comes
May you know when to use your white flag
May you know where the pier ends
May you not be left hanging like bad art in a motel room
May you wander along the river Esk
Ruth
So the story ends
Beneath a forgotten cross
During climate extremes
With the last Polaroid
Track Name: Cartwheels
All through the valleys the mountaintops
No more dark alley no more blind spots
No need to stumble no need to rail
For now I tumble over hill and over down dale
You see I found a way to get from A to Z
Where golden apples sway all day on golden trees
And even though I know I could walk or I could run
Over I go head to toe toward the blazing sun

Cartwheels up into town
Round and round
Cartwheels all over town
Up and down

The sad fountain the bruising sky
I do not sit with them I wave at them as I go by
All through the valleys the mountaintop
No more dark alley no more blind spots

Cartwheels up into town
Round and round
Cartwheels all over town

Leaving all the fallow leaving all the shallow
Leaving all the badlands too
I’ve found a way to harness the best of every harvest
And I’m bringing it all in for you

Cartwheels
Track Name: Everyone Loves Me
I'm a thief I'm a liar
I throw friendships on the fire
Everyone loves me
I sleep around I swear
I ain't ever put a comb through my hair
Everyone loves me
I get on the booze and on the grass
And no one ever takes me to task
Everyone loves me
I got more so much more
How long you got?
I got more so much more
I call on you and you open the door
You call on me and I don't care anymore
Everyone loves me
I got more so much more
How long you got?
I got more so much more
I’m playing Vegas I played here before
All the stars rap on my dressing room door
Everyone loves me
I say I'm sorry more than I say I love you
I’ve been a bastard through and through
Everyone loves me
Track Name: Kathleen
At times the dead seem more alive than I
I see them shoot across the sky
And in the faces of passers by Kathleen
To know the measurements of each mistake
How cities crumble poets drown in lakes
A few more drinks and I’ll no longer shake Kathleen

Bring me the chandelier
Bring me the golden years
Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia
Bring me to the point of tears

I watched you dance along the western shore
In silk and satin all the spoils of war
You remind the men of what they’re fighting for Kathleen

No it doesn’t have to end like this
No it doesn’t have to end like this

In conversation we conceal
What our silences will reveal
You push your fork around your favourite meal Kathleen
Track Name: Barkly Square
Well a nightingale sang tonight in Barkly Square
I fell from the Brunswick Hotel found her there
She were riding through the car back and singing to the rain
I put down my case so it began
Oh she sang a song so pure
She might have been channeling something I’m not sure
She opened up another channel to the human heart

You can tell how a heart’s been broken
By the way it walks through the door
Some will meet your gaze some will search the floor
Some will want to know if it will ever happen again
Some will steel themselves for when it happens again
Knowing and needing and hoping on a cure
Knowing that it reaches you when you’re unsure
She opened up another channel to the human heart

And roads will rise and meet up with clear bright eyes
To defy the dangers of the four chambers
Of the human heart

The very fountain of desire the very fountain of delight
Was she riding in and out of the shadows or in and out of the light?
It’s another kind of failure it’s another kind of fall
That leads you into the arms of someone you don’t know at all
Knowing and needing and hoping on a cure
Knowing that I love you don’t mean that much no more
She opened up another channel to the human heart

Well a nightingale sang tonight in Barkly Square
I fell from the Brunswick Hotel found her there
She were riding through the car back and singing to the rain
I put down my case so it began
Oh she sang a song so pure
She might have been channeling something I’m not sure
She opened up another channel to the human heart

And roads will rise and meet up with clear bright eyes
That defy the dangers of the four chambers
Of the human heart



Two little boats in the heavens
Two little boats on the seas
Two little boats together
Two little boats you and me
Track Name: Walking On Air
I’ve been on the wire not on your wing
I’ve been the town crier crying
Singing to the choir just to sing
I’ve been circling the kitchen floor
The slumming Lord of the indoors
I’ve become the stay at home troubadour
I’ve been climbing walls to get the view
Coming up to breathe when you come through
 
Every time I see you
I’m walking on air everywhere

I’ve been fumbling for stones to throw
Been the broken arrow beside the bow
I’ve been hitting highs to feel the lows
Now I’m looking for the mountain pass
Now I’m thumbing through Leaves Of Grass
 
Every time I see you
I’m walking on air everywhere
 
No no longer sitting in the river
No no longer at the bottom of the seas
No no longer sitting in the gutter
No no longer down on my knees
 
Every time I see you
I’m walking on air everywhere

7. High Above The River

High above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t bring you back it won’t bring you back
Oh high above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t bring you back it won’t bring you back

Let the fair winds feed you
Let the moonlight seize you
Let the stars get you to my door 
Let the emotions rescue
Let the oceans address you
Let them find someone who loves you more  

High above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t bring you back it won’t bring you back
Oh high above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t bring you back it won’t bring you back
 
May the bells ring for you
May the chorus implore you
May your heart be the guiding track 
Let the radio flood you with music
Let every note want to hold and seduce you
Let all the words that we wrote somehow sweep you back  
If I could stop all the clouds coming into your eyes
Stop all the thunder from telling you lies
Swap all the wind and the rain for an open sky

High above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t deliver you back it won’t bring you back
Oh high above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t you deliver you back it won’t deliver you
Track Name: High Above The River
High above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t bring you back it won’t bring you back
Oh high above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t bring you back it won’t bring you back

Let the fair winds feed you
Let the moonlight seize you
Let the stars get you to my door 
Let the emotions rescue
Let the oceans address you
Let them find someone who loves you more  

High above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t bring you back it won’t bring you back
Oh high above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t bring you back it won’t bring you back
 
May the bells ring for you
May the chorus implore you
May your heart be the guiding track 
Let the radio flood you with music
Let every note want to hold and seduce you
Let all the words that we wrote somehow sweep you back  
If I could stop all the clouds coming into your eyes
Stop all the thunder from telling you lies
Swap all the wind and the rain for an open sky

High above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t deliver you back it won’t bring you back
Oh high above the river and the river won’t deliver you back
It won’t you deliver you back it won’t deliver you
Track Name: No Electronic Devices
No electronic devices have yet to enthrall
Like pencil on paper or boot against ball
Or the closing of a Summer’s day
With your Mother’s dinner call
No electronic devices none at all

Summer days summer days
Around the bend
Summer nights oh summer nights
Summer nights that never end

And yeah I show my age
All through the day
The rewinding of the cassette
The 90 minute TDK

No electronic devices can entertain
Like laughing with your lover through the Summer rain
And knowing that the human hand
Might be the only thing to break a fall
No electronic devices none at all

Summer days summer days
Around the bend
Summer nights oh summer nights
Summer nights that never end

And yeah I show my age
All through the day
The rewinding of the cassette
The 90 minute TDK
Track Name: Yea Tho Grief…
Yea though grief be upon me I am prepared for grief
I’ve stolen all the fruit and I’ve smoked all the leaf
I’ve cracked the wall I’ve walked the hall to understand the brief
Yea though grief be upon me I am prepared for grief

Yea though pain be upon me I am prepared for pain
I’ve borne the slap of thunder and the sting in the rain
I’ve felt the heat and the raw defeat that goes down in Lovers Lane
Yea though pain be upon me I am prepared for pain

Yea though sin be upon me I am prepared for sin
I’ve bought all the ingredients and I know when they go in
I’ve licked the spoon I’ve sung its tune I’ve climbed the bowl to be within
Yea though sin be upon me I am prepared for sin

One knock to open the door
Two eyes to search the floor
Three little words to implore
The four winds to rock the shore
5 and 6 and 7 kisses lead to so much more

Yea though fear be upon me I’m not afraid
I’ve danced with all the demons and the dragons have been slayed
Buried deep in the castle keep with tears and with spade
Yea though fear be upon me I am not afraid

Yea though death be upon me I'm not prepared for death
I will damn it from the mountaintop and curse it beneath my breath
I'll raise the roof I'll be living proof you're never licked until you've got nothing left
Yea though death be upon me I'm not prepared for death
Track Name: Winter Ball
Got lost in what went down
So caught up in conversation
Waiting underground
Hoping to be found
Knowing we can rise above it all
At the Winter Ball

Took a carriage into town
Ran out of gas outside the station
Running through the fair
Everyone was there
From the Lord Mayor all the way down
The Winter Ball


Shake it Shake it
Shake the tallest tree
At times you get luckier than you would ever hope to be
Waiting on the ground
Hoping to be found
Knowing it could all ring so true
At the Winter Ball

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