Nearly a decade since the release of his last studio album, award-winning singer/songwriter Darren Coggan returns with his highly anticipated record, The Wide Horizon.
While it has been a while since Coggan released any new music, he hasn’t been sitting idle. Over the past couple of years he has developed a massive following when he received high praise for his tribute show, Peace Train – The Cat Stevens Story. With the man himself destined for Australian shores very soon, there is seemingly no more perfect time than now for Coggan to focus on releasing new material of his own.
Going into this, I hadn’t really listened to much of Coggan’s music, although, of course, I was aware of his reputation. My lack of knowledge surrounding his previous material meant that I had no real expectations for what I was about to hear, which was both a blessing and a curse for writing this review.
Album opener and current single, The Wide Horizon gets things off to a rollicking start, before slipping into Scotland. There’s a power and unexpected beauty in the lyrics behind this particular song and I found myself hypnotised by the picture Coggan so masterfully creates in homage to his Celtic roots.
This unique storytelling – a big feature in much of Coggan’s music, I am lead to believe – continues in A Beautiful Ride. Though it may be a little less upbeat than previous tracks, it is no less majestic as he sings, “I will love you forever/I will hold you ‘till the end of time/Like a softly falling feather.”
Australian Crawl’s Reckless is one of those songs that will live on forever in the consciousness of many Australians. Over the years, many artists, from John Farnham to Children Collide have paid tribute to its greatness with versions of their own, and Coggan adds his name to the list in track five. Unfortunately, however, it is with this version that I am most disappointed.
While the original is a ballad, Coggan seems to have taken it one step further. Though this does have the potential to draw more attention to Reyne’s lyrics, I think it’s almost too slow. It’s not offensive by any means, but it just doesn’t have that something extra that would allow me to call it a good cover.
Hughie sees the album get back on track for me, and is quickly followed up by Seventeen. Of all the songs I have heard so far, these two are probably the ones I like most, as they combine Coggan’s knack for storytelling with his strong vocal ability.
The album takes another change of pace, with the Ken McBeath-penned bush ballad Tales Told By We Lesser Men (Ned Kelly) before The Best of All Possible Worlds (written by Michael Genner). To close the album, Felicity Urquhart features on Inasmuch (For Norfolk Island). Again, it’s a little too slow for me, and really doesn’t have that unique quality of the songs that featured earlier on in the release, which is a bit of a letdown for an album that started off with such promise.
Overall, this album was a little hit and miss for me. In the past, I have always been drawn to songs that are slower, with more lyrical beauty, but is seemingly the opposite with The Wide Horizon. It does have some really good tracks that showcase Coggan’s versatility. There is little doubt that it will find its place with the right audience, and current fans of Coggan’s music will love it. For newcomers like myself, however? It just seemed to lack spark.