After he and fellow singer/songwriter/guitarist Grant McLennan dissolved the much-loved Go-Betweens, Robert Forster—the dour, more reflective half of that Australian band’s creative core—recorded the affectingly bittersweet Danger in the Past in Berlin, with Mick Harvey (of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds and Crime + the City Solution) producing and playing various instruments and two other Bad Seeds in tow. Forster’s acute lyrics, lilting melodies and ironically distanced vocal delivery aren’t all that different from the work he did with the Go-Betweens, but Harvey’s production lends “The River People,” “Leave Here Satisfied” and the title track an intriguingly uneasy ambience.
The self-produced Calling From a Country Phone is closer in execution to the Go-Betweens—and the better for it, with a brighter, folk-rocky sound that makes the rueful insights of songs like “Atlanta Lie Low” and “Falling Star” go down more smoothly, suggesting a somewhat more practical long-term approach than its predecessor.
After two such lyrically challenging efforts, I Had a New York Girlfriend—an all-covers collection from an artist not generally known for his interpretive skills—seems a rather odd move. Still, Forster’s choices—including items from the catalogues of the Monkees, Bill Anderson, Spirit, Heart and Martha and the Muffins—are quirky enough to maintain a distinctly confessional quality. His fine rendition of Grant Hart’s “2541” was also released on a four-track CD single that includes two non-album tracks.
Warm Nights was recorded with Scottish singer-songwriter (and former Orange Juice leader) Edwyn Collins, and is a return to original material.