There is a sparse lushness that pervades every track on Sime Nugent's latest offering, Broke & Banned songs of Sime Nugent. While the adjectives might seem a trifle paradoxical, it is this contradiction that shapes this beautifully crafted record.


The sparse instrumentation is clever and considered. Most of the 10 tracks sit predominantly on a base of acoustic or tremolo electric guitar, with a sprinkle of piano accordion, some violin, Hammond organ and even drums and bass on occasion. At times it feels like Sime is purposely hanging the song out to dry, just to see what will happen. On these occasions he imbues the song with just enough music to keep it moving forward.


What invariably happens is that space opens up around the sublime lyric, enabling the song to breathe and adding weight to his vocal. The lyrics are not only clever, well crafted and candid; they are delivered via a unique voice that can be plaintive, melancholy and often seductive.


Sime has been a fixture on the Melbourne music scene for a good few years and has honed his craft with the likes of Sedan and The Acapelicans. This is his tenth album and first solo outing. Perhaps the thing that makes Broke & Banned such a stunning album is the fact Sime chose to record the 10 tracks at five different studios, using different combinations of musicians and instrumentation for almost every track.


He has enlisted some outstanding players to make this album happen, including Steve Hesketh, Steve Grant, Peter Luscombe and a duet with Angie Hart on ‘Into the Trees'. It takes bottle to make an album like this and it takes real ability to make it work. It's a joy to listen to a crafted, honest record made by a man who refuses to take solace behind smoke and mirrors.


While loathe to draw comparisons I'm charged with the responsibility of giving you a stylistic impression of this album. When pressed I'd draw some parallels between Sime and Canadian singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith.


Broke & Banned songs of Sime Nugent is a journey through his mind; it is melancholy, hopeful, sincere and quite simply brilliant.

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