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praise for "OUTSIDERS" (2015)
"One of the finest Australian rock albums I've had the pleasure to encounter in quite some time.. Outsiders.. is the work of a man well on top of his game. With the self assured thrust of Elvis Costello's Imposters, Pete Thomas, Davey Faragher and Steve Nieve to hold the whole thing aloft, a set of tunes worthy of the union and his captivating presence holding his own with these versatile veterans, (Cullen) manages to pull off what is one of the most inspired rock albums to hit my ears for quite some time. Great songs every one, full of imaginative lyrical turns, tunes that stick in your head for days, ensemble playing to die for (including his own imaginative guitar work) and a distinctive voice and delivery to stitch it all together." - KIM CHESHIRE, RHYTHMS MAGAZINE
"Heath Cullen has it right. If you're going to hire the Imposters, Elvis Costello's longest running backing crew, give them meat on which to feast and give them room. Cullen's songs allow him, on guitar, and the "borrowed" band to work up earthy atmospheres that feel wholly relaxed... Cullen's voice sounding lived in, with more than a touch of Tom Waits. There's typically no fuss about the rhythm section.. they land everything perfectly and Nieve is given his head on occasion and his flourishes sparkle." - BERNARD ZUEL, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
"In his new book Elvis Costello extols the virtues of his band The Attractions. As you would, since they squeezed out the sparks in some of the most memorable shows/records of the late 1970s and '80s. Drummer Pete Thomas and keys man Steve Nieve, now with bassist Davey Faragher, are still Costello's go-to guys, which makes securing them as the band for his latest album quite a coup for Australian songwriter Cullen. Nieve's unmistakeable Farfisa organ bubbles away merrily on Another Blue World; Two Left Feet is a Jerry Lee Lewis rocker with Nieve hammering the ivories in the style of the master. Who'll Ring The Bell is a Tom Waits-esque tale that feels like it is drifting from the doorway of a bar, circa 3am. In black and white. This band of pros always plays the song rather than the singer, adding gravitas to songs like Bob Dylan-esque The Stranger, gently caressing the country-rock heartbreak of One for The Road and the cover of Robyn Hitchcock's Flanagan's Song. FOUR STARS" - NOEL MENGEL, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
"(Cullen) remains one of the country’s criminally underrated songwriters and performers; for this record, he linked up with Elvis Costello‘s band, The Imposters, to record Outsiders in two days out of Sing Sing Studios in Melbourne. The ambition and confidence behind a creative move such as this comes through on the album, easily one of the best releases from Cullen we’ve heard thus far. The music is demonstrative of a writer in a creatively thriving period of his career and the band (Steve Nieve, Davey Faragher and Pete Thomas) comes in not as any type of ‘guest feature’, but the perfect piece to complete the puzzle. The final result? A stunning and raw presentation of songs that give fans another look at Cullen’s engaging and vivid songwriting skills." THE AU REVIEW
"This is surely the disc which will finally break Heath Cullen in Australia, and the hearts of women everywhere. Hugely talented (Cullen produced the disc, and it sounds just lush and fine and crisp), the man has a knack of gathering like-minded musicians who just happen to share his dark and mystical streak.
Outsiders is Cullen’s third LP, and this time he’s working with - get this - Elvis Costello’s band, The Imposters. Pete Thomas, Steve Nieve and Davey Faragher have all pitched in (and the result is mighty); significantly, this is the first time The Imposters have worked with any other singer.
Cullen, in fact, could give ol’ Declan a run for his money. "Outsiders" is very much an album which has part of its soul here in Australia, but because it is essentially a road album, a finger-snapping, feet-twisting dancin’ dark blues album. "Outsiders" belongs to the world and it’s hard to conceive, in the light of repeated listens (I couldn’t help it) of a radio station squawking against constant airplay. Once more I reiterate, we live in a golden age of music, and the majors are running scared of the talent, clinging to the old stuff like moss clings to a rock that’s long stopped rolling.
We all know that tedious hip community radio station which plays that angry yelly stuff. We also know that we’re not always in the mood for that. And in twenty years time we won’t want to hear all that yelly stuff unless we were in the crowd or part of that scene for its entire life of two years … we’ll be wanting to hear albums like "Outsiders", so we can listen, dance, moan, recall lost possibilities and fuck until our heart gives out.
Pester the man and get him to tour your town. FIVE STARS" i94bar.com
"Roaming a breadth of emotional territory, Cullen has some fun.. this album really hums. I advise outsiders to Cullen to open the door and let him romance you. He'll give you new things to think about. FOUR STARS" - ARNE SJOSTEDT, THE CANBERRA TIMES
"Gorgeously raw" PHILIP WHITE, DRINKSTER
"Authentic... Engaging... Heartfelt... Cullen mines a well where names such as Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen float to the surface. Guitar chops are front and centre on his third solo outing... and his voice shifts from a seductive whisper (the Cohen-esque Who’ll Ring the Bell?, One For the Road) to a more urgent Americana twang (Another Blue World)." - IAIN SHEDDEN, WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN
"He's an incredible songwriter & lyricist. OUTSIDERS is high up on our 'Album of the Year' list here at Basement Discs. The album is a cracker." THE BASEMENT DISCS, MELBOURNE AUS
"The sessions in Australia were very pleasurable, and the songs Heath asked us to collaborate on were cool too. What can I tell you about him? He is a wonderful songwriter, a genuine and thoughtful soul, musician with a real love for old guitars and amps, not a lot of technology on his musical landscapes, sings with real passion in his voice. I love his previous record with Marc Ribot, Silver Wings is often on in my car when I’m racing down the German Autobahn." STEVE NIEVE, TRUST THE WIZARDS
"There’s something about Cullen. Something absorbing. That whole tall, dark and handsome stranger get-up and princely stage presence he exudes leaves punters’ eyes following him about the raised Northcote platform wherever he moves. And the show is suave and captivating .. that proves once more the integrity and musical bones that reverberate throughout Cullen. The gent is a genuine troubadour" RHYTHMS
"The strength of Cullen’s songwriting is the vividness of his lyrics, his turns-of-phrase that sit somewhere between Paul Kelly and Neil Finn. With references to dusty-town Australia – blackened cornfields, magpies, trucks dropping to 80 before speeding off again – he imbues slight and casual observations with sad profundity. The title track from his last album, The Still And The Steep, was his set’s ominous highlight, played like a lovely, broken tango." - The BRAG
praise for "the still and the steep" (2013)
"The Still and the Steep, Cullen's second album, features a superstar band comprising Jim Keltner (the "drummer's drummer" who has worked with just about anyone who matters, including in one of the modern era's great superbands, the Traveling Wilburys), guitarist Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, John Zorn) and bassist Larry Taylor (perhaps most notably from legendary blues outfit Canned Heat, but also an important part of the Waits story).
Put this four-piece up against a collection of exquisite songs that range from understated blues-rock ballads to old-fashioned tremolo-tinged country tunes, and lyrics of love and loss, and you've got a winner. The album opener, From Father to Son, sets the tone like a road trip heading out of town at daybreak, nothing ahead but empty plains and cloudless skies.
Cullen hails from the southeast NSW town of Candelo.. It must be something in the water, or else there's some pretty vivid dreams being had in that placid valley of theirs.
Either way, this sparkles. 4 STARS" THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN
"A remarkable talent nourished from a singular stance.. He plows fertile terrain, areas mined by lingering memories and venerable circumstance. The Still and the Steep is nothing less than remarkable, a recording that ought to bring Cullen the extensive audience he deserves." NO DEPRESSION
"EXCEPTIONAL" 4 STARS - STACK / JB HIFI MAGAZINE
"Rich in metaphor and narrative – as its own instrument, the vocal sometimes hangs over the music, at others slots deep in the spacious and detailed groove. Feels like the musings of a part dandy, love-lorn traveller taking a moment in the midst of some under-populated, rocky landscape to think – "what more does a man need? 4.5 STARS" THE CANBERRA TIMES
".. Nothing short of astonishing. The recording showcases Cullen’s talents as a writer, guitarist and singer, one whose work projects an eclectic musical sensibility, but one that still has the cohesion necessary to firmly stamp the name “Cullen” on his songbook." UNPAVED
"The Still and the Steep is a mesmerising album, one of hushed eloquence and world weary wisdom. It’s an album that’s tinged with melancholy, but not excessively so. The album has grabbed me from the first listen, whether it be due to Cullen’s half whispered vocal, or the beautiful poetic poignancy of his lyricism. 8.6/10 STARS" THE AU REVIEW
"The album sounds incredible, inhaling and exhaling with all the space and texture of a T-Bone (Burnett) production. (Tom) Waits also emerges as a palpable influence on tracks like ‘The Prettiest Horses’ (though perhaps that’s just Ribot’s influence?). Elsewhere, Cullen sounds like he’s been listening to my favourite Texan, Sam Baker, in the half-spoken, half-sung eloquent cogency of ‘Silver Wings’, a powerful album highlight.
Cullen has managed to secure a strikingly cohesive tone to the album, both in sound and content. The Still And The Steep very much unfolds like a genuine album, each song a new chapter to a whole. The unhurried, spacious musical landscape and Cullen’s knack for conjuring intrigue with words makes for mesmerising listening from beginning to end." RHYTHMS MAGAZINE
"The best thing from down under since Nick Cave" REVERB MUSIC BLOG, SWITZERLAND
"This is a place of spacious myth, cursed missives and slippery experience. Heath Cullen transmits the yearning strength of a casual observer who's been yanked into this world by magnetic, if shadowy figures. It's a diverse LP. In places, you may detect a sense of reserve in Heath Cullen's approach and delivery. Elsewhere, the commitment is full-throated. He rises to the occasion and hammers this album home. Buy it today. Listen to it, and listen again. Rewards come early and continue to flow." ABC 720, WA
"Everyone knows stars often have humble beginnings. The Beatles were at the Cavern, Nick Cave was at the Tiger Room, INXS were at a mining camp and Richard Branson was a git. But you don't always expect to walk in and see the process in motion.. How can you write a song called "Fullerton's Bridge" and make it beautiful? This man can. He sings about promises and makes it sound unique, his stories are segments of a film you saw last week. He has a gloriously controlled voice and a restrained sense of mischief. His guitar is gloriously articulate and carefully structured, yet liquid, rich and flowing. He shows off just the once - in the last song, and even then he involves the band so much it's beautiful. How many damn good guitarists have the restraint and intelligence to do that? Heath Cullen is a star." i94bar.com
"A whole conversation in every line of song.. words delivered like whispered asides at a public bar. " BMA MAGAZINE