On a map, Dave Diprose is based in the coastal capital of Victoria, Australia, in Melbourne. His words and his songs, well, they take the listener to another time and place. A simpler world so vividly portrayed it could be right in front of you. His new album Hillbilly Radio is a transformative passport to a cozy, comforting home. Unexpected and endearing Hillbilly Radio tunes the listener into the memories and musings of a talented Aussie songwriter.
A gifted, natural storyteller, Diprose garnered the 2019 Tamworth Songwriters Association Bluegrass Song of the Year for the title track. It’s catchy and rhythm-laced with Diprose’s leathered vocals, bringing the focus even more so to his exceptional wordsmith abilities. Time when life was free / when the sun goes down / hear the sound of hillbilly radio, Diprose professes. He sings with grit and the souls of yesteryear in the song’s undertow. He gathers his guitar and the acoustics splash a sheen of ruggedness and weathered wood, like a patina, across the finished mix. He excels at creating sentimental moments that become tangible.
With 13-tracks on Hillbilly Radio, the listener is given ample opportunities to get to know Diprose as an artist. In the Americana-esque “Life In A Small Country Town” where Diprose reveals the double-edged sword of small-town life that can be universally experienced with the crisp chorus sometimes it seems like your whole world will bust / hanging around here in the heat and the dust / but these people are the kind you can trust and be around / life in a small country town. His consistent vocals and trusty acoustic guitar are wildly tamed. He’s rugged and it irons out to transport the listener to a calm, connected state-of-mind. In “Heartbreak Land” his circular delivery is deeply felt. Waiting years for the rain to come / bring life back to the ground / but it seems that every time it rains / it just won’t stop, he sings as if he were sitting beside you on the front porch or around a campfire. In track five, “As Long As You Stayed Around”, he delivers a line that swept me off my chair, and I feel strongly that it encapsulates him as an artist: what I got you know I’ll give you / and I sing to you my song, from his heart Diprose, sings.
Hillbilly Radio’s second half continues to explore rural themes and blue collar livelihood. In the beautiful instrumental “The Noojee Trestle” Diprose bridges together bright, intricate strumming and his natural pitched-voice that weaves together a journey like a tapestry of a town’s history. Noojee is a tiny town in Victoria’s and according to Wikipedia its Aboriginal meaning is “valley of or place of rest”. Diprose’s ditty reminds me of the sound fish make coming out of the water, splashing and dancing in the air. In “Down In the Mines” the tone is a bit more bluegrass and a stirring violin weaves its way through the song like a creaking rocking chair. The slide guitar digs below for a deep vibrato. Diprose sings with appreciation and poignancy, any time the sun shines / I’m down in the mine, as if he were tipping his hat to the hardworking miners missing out on life while they are below the surface. It’s fitting that Diprose would play tribute to the forgotten.
Hillbilly Radio is a hauntingly beautiful reminder that in every corner of the world, everyone has a story.