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Bernard Fanning

Tea & Sympathy – 2006 (Lost Highway)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Bernard Fanning

The comforting '70s country rock vibe emanating from Bernard Fanning's debut solo disc doesn't betray for a moment his renowned role as lead vocalist for Powderfinger, one of Australia's most successful hard rock bands.

Recorded during Powderfinger's recent hiatus, Fanning channels the gentle power of country dabblers like Led Zeppelin ("Thrill is Gone") and more committed practitioners like Neil Young ("Not Finished Just Yet," "Songbird"), while folding in the funky/soulful acoustic gospel undercurrent that marked the best '70s work of Rod Stewart and Elton John ("Hope & Validation," "Sleeping Rough"), hints of the folk undercurrents of rock icons like Bad Company and Nazareth ("Which Way Home?") and more contemporary pop angles like his regional compatriots, the Finn brothers ("The Strangest Thing") and Dave Dobbyn ("Wish You Well").

Predictably, despite the broad disparity between his visceral rock work and his rootsy solo moonlighting, "Tea & Sympathy" has already generated hit singles and huge numbers for Fanning at home, mirroring Powderfinger's stellar success Down Under. Here's hoping the dismal indifference that has inexplicably greeted Powderfinger in the States doesn't taint the absolutely marvelous "Tea & Sympathy's" chances for broader exposure Up Over.