They say you can’t keep a good man down, and critically-acclaimed Melbourne alt-country singer/songwriter Rich Webb is proof positive of that old adage, with new single Brunswick St arriving as his first piece of new music for 2023. Brunswick St arrives just a few months after the release of his latest album, RIGHT!, with the uplifting, driving track presenting itself as an equally powerful ode to the Melbourne street which bears its name.
Armed with lyrics as nostalgic as they are contemporary, and backed by an instrumental that is punchy and exciting, Brunswick St is something of a full circle moment for Rich as he pays tribute to the very same Fitzroy street that crafted and curated unforgettable memories in his early days in Melbourne, and has served as a warm homecoming with every return visit. Approaching his new music with a clearer vision of what he wants to accomplish, Brunswick St sees Rich again working with his talented band, and this time taking a greater hand in the mixing process alongside Oh Mercy’s Rohan Sforcina. The end result is a track which is unapologetically Rich Webb, is close to his heart, and takes influence from the very bands and musicians that soundtracked his early years on Brunswick Street, including Magic Dirt, The Fauves, Kim Salmon, Chris Wilson and The Dead Salesmen.
As Rich explains, “It’s a story song. I was walking down Brunswick Street and randomly bumped into a pretty wild dude I used to run with back then, who I hadn’t seen for years. He was still going hard and it was great to see him. There was some common ground and a lot came flooding back. It’s about the way people and places change for you, but you also carry a bit of them forward with you too. I still get a tingle of excitement walking down there, and I think that’s because I experienced such a great time in my life on that bit of pavement. Always been a fun place for me, and I tried to catch that in the song. It’s still a cracking strip – get yourself over there!”
With Brunswick St being viewed by Rich as a progression from the music on 2022’s RIGHT!, he also looks at the song as one which could easily have sat on his 2019 album, Le Rayon Vert – which deservedly took home the Alt-Country Album of the Year award at the Independent Music Awards in New York. It’s a testament to his work as a multi-dimensional creative and as an artist not content with standing still. This much is evident within the joyous strains of Brunswick St, whose emotional roots are planted within the past while keeping an eye on the future and the opportunities it provides.
The accompanying video for Brunswick St sees Rich collaborating with Julian Abrahams and Ty Ridgeway of Shoelace Creative (Lime Cordiale, Didirri, Angie McMahon) as he takes the viewer on a trip down the song’s namesake before ending up at The Evelyn Hotel – quite likely mirroring his experiences on Brunswick Street back in the ‘90s. As Rich puts it, “The song is about a random walk down Brunswick St, so it seemed pretty clear we needed to do something similar for the video – and have some fun with it, as that’s what it’s always been about for me down there. I end up in The Evelyn Hotel also, which back then was and still is, a firing joint – The Punters opposite and The Evelyn were the heart of much of what was happening this side of town for a while.”
Having spent more than two-and-a-half decades as a staple of the Australian music scene, Rich Webb shows no signs of even thinking of slowing down, with two launch shows for Brunswick St slated for Melbourne in the coming weeks – including a matinee show at The Brunswick Ballroom on Saturday May 20, and an evening show at St Kilda’s George Lane on Friday June 2. As Rich humbly puts it, the upcoming shows will be nothing short of an “unmissable life-affirming show of brilliant unforgettable tunes”. With lead guitarist Matt Dixon (who recently toured with Jim Lauderdale)in tow, Rich is also joined by bass player and backing vocalist Alics Gate-Eastley (The Well Oiled Sisters) and drummer and backing vocalist Jim Carden (The Warner Brothers), the line-up he’s been out and about with for the past year. “This tune totally kills live too!” adds Rich.
Brunswick St is out today, May 11.