The fourteen years since the last Midnight Oil album have been eventful for Peter Garrett. Moving from music to politics, he spent much of this period as a part of Australia’s labour government party, which included many controversial choices during his years of service, only finding himself retiring from government work as recently as 2013. Now that this period is over, however, it’s no surprise that Garrett finds himself once again creating music; A Version of Now may be his first solo album, but it’ll sound familiar to most Garrett fans, even if it acts as a better lead-in to more Midnight Oil material than it does as a solo introduction.
Stylistically, A Version of Now is extremely straightforward and simple. The focus is always placed on Garrett’s easily identifiable, heavily accented singing, filling in the gap behind his voice with the music so they work in harmony rather than fighting for dominance. The lyrics cover what many would expect them to, from addressing his political career and the choices he made throughout it on I’d Do It Again, to simply announcing his return to music on the opening track Tall Trees. Meanwhile, Homecoming covers the period in which he returned home after his political career, with its sentimentality showing through clearly.
There’s nothing truly groundbreaking to be found on Garrett’s solo debut, but its familiarity is ultimately what fans will enjoy most out of it. Glimpses of his catalogue with Midnight Oil pop up throughout, and there’s the added bonus of songs like Homecoming not requiring any bells and whistles on top of their simple arrangement to truly stand out. The only truly unique moment on the album is when he approaches talk-singing at its extreme on It Still Matters, not quite at rapping speeds but covering much more lyrical ground than he does anywhere else, tying the album together nicely as he races to convey his message.
While it won’t win over any new fans, Garrett is more than ready to prepare fans for the return of Midnight Oil with A Version of Now, as if he were conveying his memoirs through this alternate channel to quickly address the political situation before launching back into band material. There’s no real groundbreaking moments on the album, and its one-note style would come close to dragging if it weren’t such a short album. Regardless, A Version of Now has its merits and sits well in Garrett’s discography.