Robert Forster: The Evangelist

Yep Roc
Music •••½ Sound •••½

If you know who Robert Forster is, you no doubt were a fan of Australia's Go-Betweens, the vastly underappreciated band he co-helmed with songwriting partner Grant McLennan throughout the 1980s and again from 2000 until McLennan's unexpected death in 2006. The Evangelist is technically Forster's fifth solo album (the other four came during the '90s). But with several songs featuring some of McLennan's lyrics - and with remaining newer band members Adele Pickvance (bass) and Glenn Thompson (drums) also on hand - there's a definite group feel here. There's also an understandable wistfulness, although listeners familiar with such Go- Betweens gems as "Love Is a Sign" and "Dive for Your Memory" know that wistfulness has always been as much a part of Forster's writing as his signature dry wit.

Both are in good supply here. The gorgeously melodied "Demon Days" and the vaguely country, vaguely Dylanesque "Let Your Light In, Babe" are highlights. And Forster's lyrical flair turns up in the evocative "Pandanus" ("The afternoon was dying / There was purple at its feet") and the edgy title track ("She drove a Golf white diesel, she drove me through the streets / She took me into her world of parks and wooden seats").

The best is literally saved for last, via closing tracks "It Ain't Easy" and "From Ghost Town" - both about dealing with loss, and both impossible to shake off once heard. "And a river ran and a train ran and a dream ran through everything that he did," Forster sings about his fallen friend. "It ain't easy when that love is blue, the love is blue." In a word: touching.