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MEDIA: Reviews: Lovetown


from Australian Rolling Stone yearbook, 1987

Lovetown was as uncluttered, heartfelt and impacting as only the best music can be. Intentionally eschewing almost all studio dressing, Cummings relied on acoustic guitars, double bass and minimal percussion to flesh out his emotion-charged vignettes. The result was an album with the first-take honesty and freshness that marked such master works as Van Morrison's Astral Weeks and Neil Young's Tonight's The Night.

The stripped back arrangements placed a strong emphasis on the song, and Cummings' voice. Here the predominantly Cummings/Pendlebury penned tunes stood up to the closest scrutiny. The lyrics on the brilliant "Everybody Wants To Get To Heaven But Nobody Wants To Die", "She Set Fire To The House" and "Push It Up All Fall Down" consistently hit the spot as they incisively documented relationships on the skids. These songs were made to be presented in a loose, and traditional format. They had a remarkable, timeless presence.

Cummings' vocals were Lovetown's crowning glory. The guy is blessed with a great voice, but it's the way that he used it that left you reeling. His delivery was in turn intense, sad, pleading, and enthusiastic and it always complemented and enhanced the lyric's intent. Lovetown easily eclipsed his previous solo records, and even surpassed the Sports' best, and that's no mean feat.

The Crate: Lovetown

from eg, The Age, May 2006 - by Chris Johnston

The Melbourne songwriter does a cover of Viva Las Vegas on his third post-Sports solo album, tucked in right at the end, the final song, a jaunty singalong rocker placed as if to lift the mood after an album's worth of deep melancholia. The contrast between it and the rest is stark; the tempo, the feel, the energy, everything. But it also seems that the famous Elvis song has much in common with Cummings' blue moodes on Lovetown - it's a song of hope against the odds, after all, of a quest to win and find yourself, just one man in a big city in pursuit of a better life, a little bit of fortune, a few good chances, a random ray of hopeful moonlight. In the end, that's what Cummings deals with here. The fight to survive. The will to overcome lost love. The gamble of women. The dice-roll of sex. To him, on Lovetown, life is a gamble; it could go this way, it could go that. And when it goes wrong, there's mopping up to do. In She Set Fire To The House, a seven-year relationship with "Monika" goes horribly wrong and she, whether metaphorically or physically, torches the joint after a string of broken promises, infidelity and vanished love: "...only Monika, she left first/And in that cold clear dawn light/An empty can of kerosene/Helped that house of love burn down so bright". It's such a beautiful song, built around a poetic piano. There's a great band behind Cummings here - Andrew Pendlebury, Shane O'Mara, Stephen Hadley, Peter Luscombe, Paul Williamson, Johnny McAll, Nick Smith and Rebecca Barnard - an all-star line-up. And the stories Cummings weaves are often after Raymond Carver in their exploration of the gamble, just like Paul Kelly does. You Jane sees him drinking in a bar and then with the waitress, until dawn: "...I give her my wrong name and, of course, she'd done the same to me/So we went and had some bad food and coffee at a bowling alley." Great stories from a great singer.


from eg, The Age, 27 June 2008 - from "50 best Australian albums of the last 50 years". Lovetown was #40.

Around the time he released his third solo album, Stephen Cummings was dubbed the St Kilda Sinatra. A fair description, though Cummings is a better songwriter. Lovetown is the sound of Melbourne melancholia; "everything that you see is just a memory", Cummings sings. He's never made a bad album, but this is his masterpiece. (by journalist Jeff Jenkins)

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