With an impressive career spanning some 25 years, it’s perfectly natural to feel a great sense of excitement knowing that American-born and Australian raised Mark Lizotte has released a new album under his esteemed Diesel guise. The album is a sparkling throwback to the birthplace of Lizotte, as it unfolds a thick tribute blanket over his relationship with America. Americana scoops deep inside the talent bowl as Diesel pieces together a carefully selected number of tunes made famous by American songwriting icons such as Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash to name but a few.
The record opens with Hank’s Dream – transforming the Hank Garland track into a very western-heavy instrumental piece, colourfully encapsulating the vision of the entire record. Sleazy guitar playing and blunt percussion mix together like tequila and sand, painting an image that would have Clint Eastwood busting with anticipation. The album then dips straight into a very country take on Johnny Cash’s influential Ring Of Fire – one of many exceptional pieces on the album and an esoteric, harmonious tribute to the man. More than just a conceptually driven idea, the road traveled on this record veers into a more personable and intrinsic value that is fundamentally more than ‘just a cover album’. He quips about the Australian spirit and approach to the trajectory influence for Americana – “We’re not scared of mixing things up here and breaking the rules. Never have been”. This is felt in his touching tribute to Neil Young’s 1970, foot stomping, Don’t Let It Bring You Down. Lizotte embody’s the essence heard in all of the tracks explored on the record – from the chimerical and gentle cradling presence spread throughout his version of Joni Mitchell’s Circle Game, to the red, white and blue stadium rock feelings in his rendition of The Boss’ Born To Run. A bold standout though is his sonic rendering in the record’s last track, as he respectfully absorbs the atmosphere of the USA in a compelling cover of Creedence’s Born On The Bayou – governing a sensory haven with southern style and flair.
It’s always great to hear covers that generate a deep sense of appreciation conveyed through the global kinship shared by musicians, however, it’s marvellous to hear it done with such a sensitive creative direction and delicate mindset. Diesel lets the recordings on Americana speak for themselves, offering a nostalgia-laced and respectable record filled with his own panache and aural integrity. It’s by utilising his musical career experience how Diesel can prove with little persuasion, his success in delivering a brilliant tribute record – climactically fusing his Australian musical spirit with his shining American pride.