“If Bob Dylan was born 20 years later and grew up fraternising in Collingwood bars, he would sound like this.”Patrick Emery,Beat Magazine, Melbourne

Van Walker is a Tasmanian native who’s prolific songwriting productivity has seen him become a ‘cult figure locally’ in his adopted Melbourne, having written over 500 songs across many genres, releasing 6 full length albums between 2008 & 2010, a selection of which the Fuse Music Group realised in 2012 on the Underneath the Radar compilation, which met with national critical acclaim, prompting Beat Magazine to quip: “If Bob Dylan was born 20 years later and grew up fraternising in Collingwood bars, he would sound like this,” and Mess & Noise to state, “Literary vigour and scathing social commentary, if there is any justice in this world, Underneath the Radar will provoke a radical awareness & appreciation of Van Walker’s songwriting talents.”

Since then Van has been busy touring nationally and internationally, writing and releasing two albums with the powerpop outfit The Livingstone Daisies (2013, PBS Album of the Year) (2014 4.5 Stars AGE EG) with Liz Stringer, his brother Callan, and Michael Barclay (Paul Kelly/Mick Thomas), recording and touring Heartbrokers with Jeff Lang, Ash Davies and Ezra Lee; forming the three piece blues boogie outfit Goatpiss Gasoline; while also writing and performing as a member of the critically acclaimed Vandemonian Lags stage production.

Around 2015 Van began writing and demoing songs,  planning a solo work which after five long years is now finally ready for release.

Ghosting (Green South Records) is due out August 2020.

Recorded with Jeff Lang & Dave Walker, and guesting musicians such as Matt Walker, Shane Reilley and Jeff Lang himself, the album is a work of stark and bracing honesty, simple in arrangement but clear to a depth, welcoming audiences into an intimate, warmhearted and ultimately redeeming musical journey.

 

Above as Below
Spirit World
Nobody Knows
Long Nights Journey to Day
Borderline
Land of Shades
Wanted to be Sure
When You Were Mine
Drifting Too Far From Shore
Long Gone
The World Goes On Without Us
Closing Time
I Remember You
You Know Who You Are

 

Above as Below

Van Walker ~ guitars and vox

Chelsea Stewart ~ backing vox

Mitch Dillon ~ bass & piano

Dan Musil ~ dobro

Sam Davies ~ Pipes

(Song about a lighthouse, and what they represent. I think lighthouses are works of engineering brilliance, aloof but tough, like any good artist.)

 

Spirit World 

Van Walker ~ guitar and vocals

Jeff Lang ~ dobro and backing vocals

(Originally written on banjo, this song remains a little mysterious. The main character is bereft and playing around with the dark arts, but we don’t really know if he wants to bring back his ‘baby’ from the grave, or a child.)

 

Nobody Knows 

Van Walker ~ guitar and vocals

Jeff Lang ~ bass

(A song about willful blindness, on both sides, and the natural worlds demise due as much to the apathy and naivety of ‘good people’ as it is those run by their darker instincts.)

 

Long Nights Journey to Day 

Van Walker ~ guitar & vox

Jeff Lang ~ bass

Shane Reilly ~ pedal steel

Brendan McMahon ~ piano

(A cry of forgiveness and regret, but also vigilance and survival.

 

Borderline

Van Walker ~ guitar and vox

Mitch Dillon ~ bass

(Another wishful thinking song about resolve and repair that belies the harsh truth that the only way really forward is alone.)

 

Land of Shades 

Van Walker ~ guitar & vox

Mitch Dillon ~ bass

Dan Musil ~ dobro

Nick O’Mara ~ electric guitar

 (A song of deep descending, and the effort to, not just survive, but to keep one eyes open during the horrific experience, so that the journey may be reversed and worth the pain for the rare lessons found there like jewels on the ocean floor.)

 

Wanted to be Sure 

Van Walker ~ guitar and vox

Mitch Dillon ~ bass

Sam Davies ~ pipes

(This is a kind of embarrassed admittance of holding on when nothing remains.)

 

When You Were Mine 

Van Walker ~ guitars and vox

Mitch Dillon ~ bass

Alison Ferrier ~ shaker

(A song of memory and its bitter chains.)

 

Drifting Too Far From Shore 

Van Walker ~ guitar and vocal

Jeff Lang ~ Bass and electric guitar

Matt Walker ~ Harmonica and acoustic guitar

(This is a hard one to pin down.  Something about the sometimes invisibility of depression, isolation as an survival adaptation, trauma and illness that leads to further isolation and abandonment.)

 

Long Gone

Van Walker ~ guitar & vox

Mitch Dillon ~ bass, drums & harmonica

Dave Walker ~ electric guitar

Chelsea Stewart ~ backing vox

 (This song seems to be the point of break through on the album were the inevitable understanding finally occurs and grief is almost celebrated in it’s acceptance.)

 

The World Goes on Without Us 

Van Walker ~ guitars and vox

Mitch Dillon ~ Bass

Chelsea Stewart ~ backing vox

(This is a resigned song of love and loss, regards the individual and the greater world.)

 

Closing Time 

Van Walker ~ guitar and vox

Mitch Dillon ~ bass

Matt Walker ~ guitar and harmonica

Dan, Matt, Van & Dave ~ percussion

(Knees up coming to a close, party over, drunken determination to keep the wake going.)

 

I Remember You

Van Walker ~ vocals & guitar

Mitch Dillon ~ bass & drums

Dan Musil ~ dobro

(A love song about memory and aging, the inevitability of loss, and thus the wisdom of generosity. 

 

You Know Who You Are 

Van Walker ~ guitar & vox

Jeff Lang ~ bass

Dan Musil ~ backing vox

(A very personal song about the loss in question, but overall the deeply felt gratitude and final acceptance).

 

 

SPIRIT WOLRD single

 

Crystal Ball 

Van Walker – guitars and vox

Mitch Dillon – Bass

Carolyn Gannell – Cello

(A dream of clairvoyance delivered by a raven, usually a negative portent.)

 

I Gotta Worry

Van Walker ~ guitar & vox

Mitch Dillon  ~ bass

Matt Walker ~ electric guitar

(Old abodes were love once lived tend to house ghosts and this is a simple song about that apprehension.)

 

* Tour dates for Spirit World Single National Tour and Ghosting National Tour online.

 

 

MORE BIO

Born & raised on the windswept prairies of north-west coast Tasmania, between lashings of hallucinogenic cheese & Magic Johnson, weened on William Blake & Ribald magazine, Van first heard the music of Bob Dylan around adolescence & began picking guitar & writing songs. Some hundreds of songs later and a hell-bent pick, he moved to Melbourne to form the rocknroll outfit The Swedish Magazines, and sing his unique hillbilly stuff on the side.

The first collection of these beguilingly simple songs came out in 2008 entitled   The Celestial Railroad, & in 2009 three separate sessions were released,  The Last Record Store (Jan) Greetings from Penguin Tasmania (Aug) & Love Fate (Oct). Drawing on the grand storytelling tradition of artists such as Ray Davies, Townes Van Zandt, Leon Payne & John Prine, & the acoustic finger-styles of John Fahey &  Mississippi John Hurt, Van created a sound both old & new, with a laconic familiarity that speaks to the heart with an intimacy more effortless than contrived.

“Van Walker writes songs with the ease the rest of us breath.” JB HiFi MAG, Aug, 2010.

He took to the road with a cache of seemingly myriad original compositions & began finding his audience in the most unlikely places, even writing songs while standing on stages, composing ditties to people he’d only just met, & delivering albums with these dedications on them. Songs for local independent record stores (The Last Record Store), pubs nestled deep within the southern wilderness (Blackout), books found & read on lonely train rides (Timbuktu) & even odes dedicated to itinerant musicians doing the very same (Living Like a Gypsy).

Along with these came songs of lovelorn spies (The Singing Detective) downtrodden bus-drivers (Old Joe) transient serial murders (Travelin Man) & drunken rabbits (Wildgrass) to name a few.

“The Oscar Wilde of the Aussie music scene.” Gary Young, ex Daddy Cool & present Chicken Mary presenter, Triple R

By August of 2010 the latest full-length album Bush League Bard was released to more rave reviews. A collection of both new, unheard songs & unrecorded live favorites, teaming up with the same musicians whom graced his debut, BLB was be his last for a while as he awaited the release of a retrospective from The Fuse Music Group entitled UNDERNEATH THE RADAR 2008 ~ 2010, a compilation of songs from his first 5 albums, in an attempt to harness this mercurial torrent of productivity into a digestible overview of an artist unblocked, released  October 28th 2011 to more positive press.

Since then Van has been busy touring Europe in 2013, 2014, & 2018, writing and releasing two albums with the powerpop outfit The Livingstone Daisies (2013, PBS Album of the Year) (2014 4.5 Stars AGE EG) with Liz Stringer, his brother Callan, and Michael Barclay (Paul Kelly/Mick Thomas), forming and recording the rocknroll record Heartbrokers Vol.10 featuring Jeff Lang, Ezra Lee, Ash Davies(Off the Hip/Rubber); forming the three piece blues outfit Goatpiss Gasoline; while also writing and performing as a member of the critically acclaimed Vandemonian Lags stage production.

“A superb storyteller.” ~ MAG Nov 2011

“Words & Music flow out of Van Walker like the rivers that sometimes set the scene for his wonderful storytelling.” 4 1/2 stars ~ Martin Boulton, The AGE

“A captivating storyteller, reminiscent of Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt or Bob Dylan…A true & rare talent that has to be heard.” 4 1/2 stars ~ Denise Hyland, Twang, RRR

Album of the week, Nov 2011, Sydney Morning Herald, B. Zuel

“A devoted songwriter…Walker is a much revered, almost cult figure locally.” RHYTHMS, Nov 2011

“Literary vigor…scathing social commentary… If there is any justice in this world, Underneath the Radar will provoke a radical awareness & appreciation of Van Walker’s songwriting talents.”  Mess & Noise

“Underneath the Radar may not be such a bad place to be. Other songwriters might get more attention, but Melbourne’s Van Walker simply makes music, releasing an astonishing five albums in two years. “The only thing that keeps me sane,” he sings, “is playing music, not the game.” This album gathers 15 songs from those five albums. Ragged, rambling & revealing, it showcases a superb story teller, aware that “the Low Road is long,” but Van Walker is a stayer, not a sprinter.” 4 stars, Music Australia Guide

Past critical response…

“The Celestial Railroad is really is one hell of a prolific record, with songwriting and delivery constructed to break the hearts of many in the Aussie Roots scene who have tried for years to express themselves in this manner.” Nick Argyriou, RHYTHMS

 

**** Four Stars (Celestial Railroad) Jeff Glorfeld, The Age, Oct 24th, 2008

 

“Another Lyrical Masterpiece” (The Last Record Store) RHYTHMS, aug ’09

 

ALBUM OF 2009 (Last Record Store) Cowboy’s Sweetheart BayFM 99.9 Byron Bay

 

Top Albums of 2009 – THE LAST RECORD STORE – Basement Discs, Melbourne

 

Best Song of 2009 – DARK RIDER (Last Record Store) Brian Wise, RRR, Off The Record

 

Triple J Friends FAV SONG – Beyond Where the Last Buses Run – Robert Murphy, Western Doggies

 

“An effin’ ripper talent.” Jordie Lane

“A truly great songwriter.” Charles Jenkins

“Van drops albums like a big tree drops leaves.” Matt Walker

“Set of pipes, endless songs and a heart of gold.” Kath White

“A bourbon drinking Scottish bard with a red beard and a hot temper. Keep doing what you’re doing.” Nicole Coombes 

“Van has so much warmth… being near him is like sitting by a campfire.” Shannon MacDonald

“I fucking love Van. A very real performer and a great songwriter.” Chris Russell

“Van Walker has carved a deep and permanent mark into the Australian song-writing landscape. His songs, like his presence, are giant, and his influence burns ever bright – beneath the radar, and always in the corner of my eye.” Luke Sinclair

“What a talent! Wildgrass is as fine & original a song as I’ve heard in a long time.” Eric Bibb

If recognition in music was determined by merit everyone would know his name.” Les Thomas, THESE MACHINES CUT RAZOR WIRE

“Like the best country records, at the heart of The Celestial Railroad lay a group of stories, some presumably autobiographical, others possibly metaphorical, but with a resonance that makes them relevant to all of us, regardless of the stage of life’s journey we’re currently on…. and a lyrical metaphor that would be right at home in the pages of a compendium of Australian poetry…” Patrick Emery, Beat Magazine

“Van Walker’s songs are completely original and completely self-assured – there are 15 songs and about 100,000 words on this (Celestial Railroad) record, and not one of ‘em out of place! Great picking, great singing, great songs, great record. One of the best things I’ve heard since Butch Hancock became a river guide!”                                                  Alex Morton @ The Last Record Store, Smith St, Collingwood

“An album (Greetings from Penguin Tasmania) as wild as the Taswegian wilderness.”

Album of the Week GREETINGS FROM PENGUIN TASMANIA (Beat Magazine August 2009)

 

Album of the Week BUSH LEAGUE BARD  ~ Beat Magazine August 2010

 

Four Stars: BUSH LEAGUE BARD ~ JB Hi Fi Magazine, August, 2010

 

 

‘Four albums all released within the past 18 months. If that’s not prolific I don’t know what is.’ Samuel J Fell, Inpress Magazine

 

‘There aren’t many songwriters prepared to claim the label of bard these days; like other english terms of yore, it’s usage has fallen victim to the rise of contemporary entertainment discourse, with it’s emphasis on personality & self-promotion. Van Walker is a bard in the classic sense of the term; & like a good bush league player, he’s packing plenty of punch.’ Patrick Emery, Beat Magazine

‘Songwriting isn’t so much something Van Walker does – it’s more something that defines what he is. From the way he works at his guitar playing, the way he structures his performance, his records and his life in general – it all seems to be a means geared toward the end that is some sort of ideal of an illusive classic song. Already he has scraped far closer to this end than many could ever, or will ever hope to get; in my opinion he has already penned a number of minor classics. The only album you’ll find with a better bunch of songs on it than this is his next one.’ Mick Thomas