We haven’t heard from Dan Sultan in a while, but his latest album Killer has made sure that we won’t forget him in a hurry. It’s his fourth album, but it seems that for Sultan it is the most important to date, professing that Killer follows the narrative of personal growth and maturity. Each track comes forth more cathartic than the other.
After the first few songs I can see that there is a definite pattern. While Drover, Hold It Together and Kingdom are driven by narratives political and emotional, Sultan pushes his vocals to project his message, with his lyricism seemingly falling behind. The passion is there but the poetry not as we have come to expect from his past releases. Inflected with blues and country undertones, again and again Sultan introduces a choral backing, bold and powerful in the beginning, but the theme gradually becomes somewhat stale and predictable.
Title track Killer, a welcome break in the bold production, still has that same blues undertone but with an element of whimsical electronica that takes the edge off that country thread which is still very much embedded.
Standout songs on the album Cul-De-Sac, Reaction and Fire Under Foot really gripped me, romantic, swelling and orchestral, a peaceful and calming lapse in the choral blues angle Sultan was pushing in his earlier tracks.
While Should’ve Known, Magnetic and Over In Time are individually great songs, but I can’t help but feel that the record is not curated in such a way as to make them shine. Sultan has put together an album of hits that while standing alone are brilliant, together they become lost in one another.
Killer finishes with Easier Man – a dense and emotional confession. A clearly personal and important track, it showcases Sultan’s impressive vocal range. Naturally finishing on a choral high, I came to accept that this was the vision for Sultan the whole time, an anthemic compendium of letters to the self. While not my favourite record stylistically, Killer is an album with merit, bold production and with vocals reaching new levels, Sultan’s need for catharsis rang loud and clear.
Dan Sultan – Killer
Released: 28 July, 2017 via Liberation Music