Words by Tracey Moyle.
When I was given the debut EP ‘Chapters’ for new local outfit A World Away to review I’ll admit to being a little excited. Very familiar with local musician Paul Galagher (MofoIsDead, The Butterfly Effect), I knew it would be good to say the very least and I do love finding new music to talk about. On the first listen, this release way surpassed my expectations. I immediately fell in love with what I was hearing and the incredibly moving story behind this project.
A World Away is the final musical opus of popular Gold Coast guitarist Corey De Luka (Versus Fate). He brought his vision together with the brilliant combination of local musicians Paul Galagher on vocals & guitar, Rory Swane (Helm, Awaken I Am) on bass, Josh Larkin – drums & percussion and Corey De Luka – lead guitar, with additional guitar and keys by Jeff Martin (The Tea Party).
The EP was produced and mixed by Corey’s good friend, Jeff Martin at his Riverhouse Studio. The band themselves knew they had something special quoted as saying “From the first note of the first jam the creative juices flowed effortlessly”. Musically they connected so well the first five songs they wrote are the ones you will hear on ‘Chapters’.
Toward the end of recording Corey, devastatingly, was diagnosed with cancer. Corey was determined to fight on and a benefit concert “Corey’s Jam” was organised on the Gold Coast for him and his family. The musical support behind this concert fortifies the admiration Corey had gained from friends in the industry with overseas and local hero’s showing their support. With Jeff Martin and Jeff Burrows (The Tea Party), Sarah McLeod (The Superjesus), and Mick Skelton (The Baby Animals) leading the show it was here that A World Away first performed ‘Chapters’ with a determined Corey performing with the band despite his ailing health. Although his body was failing his musical spirit was soaring. Six days later Cory passed away.
The Struggle is the very aptly named opener for this EP and immediately the haunting guitar and driving drums gives a good first impression. The almost anguished vocals of Galagher took me back to the grunge/post grunge era drawing on pure emotion in his voice. This song peaks in all the right places and with demanding riffs and energetic drums this song is a great taste of what is still to come.
Second track Please Me proceeded to blow my mind. Again, Galagher’s vocals starting off restrained but capturing, building to the powerful chorus, demanding you listen, screaming to the unknown “Please me, then just fucking leave me. Go ahead and walk right out the door”. The torment that is portrayed in Galagher’s voice gives the lyrics a sense of truth.
Backing up his vocals perfectly is Corey’s musical story telling on lead guitar mixed with the energy and control behind Larkins’ drumming just forcing you to move. I swear you won’t sit still. You become sucked into the story, feeling the sadness of and toxicity of an unknown connection and then finally the acceptance at the end with Galagher lamenting; “We were the blind leading the blind”. As much as I don’t want to compare, this song to me has hints of American Rock band Red and their brilliant Breathe Into Me. This is possibly my favourite track on the album.
The third song opens with an almost spectral sounding guitar and steady drums becoming more prominent as the momentum builds. Galagher shows off his versatility while continuing to build a connection between the listener and the song with desperation in his vocals pushing the point home with one line; “I’m Begging you – Stay”. Although slower paced the song keeps you mesmerised. Musically the pace of this track flows on well from the previous two and tells its own story with effortless transitions and strong vocals. This has a beautiful melancholic rock vibe. Another great song.
Up next is Alight taking us back to a more upbeat vibe with a good ‘old school rock’ sound. Larkin’s drumming keeps the beat steady and again I challenge anyone to sit still. However, Swane wins this one showcasing his driving bass adding force to the break. With the guitar and drum frenzy at the conclusion of the track I image this will be very popular live.
The fifth and final track is Breaking Me Down. I love this song. To me it has a slight Alice in Chains feel about it. Strong catchy guitar opens this track, smooth vocals capture you and carry you into a catchy chorus. Everything comes together perfectly in this song. Drums and Bass set the foundation while rhythm and lead work well together with Galagher’s voice setting the perfect atmosphere and delivering the song in a way that makes you believe everything he says. You really believe he is “Hanging by a thread”. Love it. Can’t stop singing – “It’s breaking me down, Breaking me down Again”
This EP is fantastic and deserves a listen or 20. I wish there were more tracks to review.
Corey left behind a legacy that Josh, Rory and Paul will carry on with their music. I can’t wait to see this performed live, hopefully in the not too distant future.
In the words of the band themselves, “It is with great pride that Josh, Rory and Paul finally present to the world this debut EP. Corey may be gone, but his music lives on. Enjoy.”
You can also watch the documentary for ‘Chapters’ on YouTube.