Australian Sam Green and his musical cohorts dubbed the Time Machine have long since established themselves as one of the most impressive units plying their trade Down Under and in the indie music scene. Their latest collection, a fourteen song effort entitled Which Way Left?, is an impressive outing in a career marked by excellence at every turn and signals there is still much to accomplish in this musician, writer, and performer’s career. Much of the writing centers around his life and experiences as an Australian, but there’s an universal resonance to this material crossing any border or ocean and certain to touch the hearts and minds of anyone willing to meet it head on. There’s humor, gravitas, and exceptional musical skill that goes into each of these compositions and it makes Which Way Left? a sure winner from the start.
“Dandeong Ranges”, for the novice to Sam Green’s work, is an excellent introduction to what guides him as an artist. There’s a distinctly personal element to the song, naturally, that’s reflected in its geographical reference, but there’s an emotion here superseding such specific elements anyone can make a strong emotional connection to the material. “Eli” is one of the most affecting tracks on the album. Green throws himself into this track with a tremendous amount of passion and there’s little doubt that this tale of heartbreak driven by betrayal will strike a nerve with any listener who has suffered broken trust. The musical backing provided by Green’s collaborators never fails to be compelling despite it being stripped down and utterly unadorned. “Financial Year” might strike some as semi-comical and it certainly presents a scenario virtually any listener can relate to. There’s a strong atmosphere of worry and weariness pervading the track Green artfully gets over without ever straining for effect.
“Harry Ginagain” is vaguely reminiscent of a childhood nursery rhyme but, underneath the playful phrasing, there’s another tale of woe Green presents in an oddly entertaining fashion. It’s one of the album’s sleeper gems and illustrative of his imaginative powers as a songwriter. He draws a deft characterization with minimal details. “Howdido” boasts one of the album’s strongest choruses and some beautifully restrained mandolin providing an excellent counterpoint for Green’s gravelly vocals. It’s one of the longer songs on Which Way Left?, but Green never oversteps his mandate and it has all of the same haunted, tender spirit coming through on the other tracks. “Lightning Never Strikes” has one of the more deliberate arrangements on the album and it might risk sounding a bit disjointed if not for the vivid violin playing accompanying the track. “Part of the Corporate” certainly plows familiar ground, but Green brings a distinctive approach to even familiar themes and the backing musicians add much to this particular performance. “’Round and Around” ends Which Way Left? on a slightly playful note musically and there’s a great deal of love in his expression of universal truths. Sam Green and the Time Machine’s Which Way Left?isn’t an album geared to knock you over with sonic firepower – instead, it quietly gets under your skin and finds its way to your heart.