The thirteen song album from Australian based Rhett May, Creatures of the Night, is the latest peak in a career that began in the mid 1960’s when May was only fifteen years old. The intervening decades has seen both his professional and personal life take a number of twists, but the abiding creativity guiding him through all of these moments makes for a fine and comprehensive work covering all the bases of this superb songwriter’s talents. Rhett May doesn’t restrict himself in any way and sheer sonic variety evident on these thirteen songs clearly illustrates that his talents were far from idle during his time away from the music business. Instead, his growth as an individual has exponentially informed his musical growth and transformed May into a performer capable of speaking to nearly any predilection his potential audience has. Creatures of the Night is a powerful musical and individual statement that doesn’t pull a single punch.
Much of the album leans to the rock side of the spectrum and the opener is no exception. “Somebody’s Watching You” escalates quickly and launches into a sinewy rocker. May hits the lyric with just the right amount of percussive force and his vocal takes center stage here as it does on many of the following tunes. A distinguishing feature of this collection is the balance May consistently finds between his singing and the musical arrangements and few songs illustrate it better than this track. The bright bounce of the opener vanishes on the title track. This is a song cloaked in shadows sweetened only by the melodic values of the track and the presence of appropriate backing vocals. “Latex Lady” shows off more of May’s aforementioned talents for a balanced lyrical and instrumental attack while coupling it with distinctly adult subject matter than never veers off a cliff into prurience. The rock elements of this song are particularly strong and sonically invoke the song’s subject matter. There’s some terrific lead guitar in “Kiss Your Mama With that Mouth” that plays off quite nicely against the track’s more muted strains and the earthy qualities of the lyric are much like “Latex Lady” in the sense that they never embrace outright shock value.
There’s a nice combination of the epic and restrained in the track “Space Between Breaths”. It opens with some heavy hitting drums before the electric guitars enter and the song builds from there culminating in some second half six string storms that emphasize the chaotic depths lurking beneath. “Symphony of Sorrow” dispenses with the guitar heroics in favor of a rhythm section centered song with heavy bass and drums providing a dramatic forum for May’s understated vocals. The album’s closing song, “When We Make Love”, shows off another appealing side of May’s talents as he takes a detour into bluesy jazz full of three am atmosphere and longing. It doesn’t sound at all out of place when juxtaposed against the other tracks and brings Creatures of the Night to a memorable ending.
by Lydia Hillenburg