LUCKY Oceans’ latest album Purple Sky was a labour of love – an homage to country music icon Hank Williams.
The Fremantle-based pedal steel guitar virtuoso spent the past year assembling some of his favourite Australian musicians to capture the spirit of Williams by reimagining 12 of his songs.
Among the greats to get involved were Paul Kelly, Kasey Chambers, Don Walker and Tex Perkins.
The results were spectacular, with each performance breathing new life into the songs.
Oceans said he had been thinking about the project for years.
“When I was growing up my first musical love was the blues and when I discovered Hank Williams I realised that this was white man’s blues,” he said.
“I fell in love with the sound of it.
“In the process of making the album I realised how great the songs were and how important they and Hank were.
“Without Hank Williams… you don’t have Chuck Berry.”
Oceans said he considered Williams to be the first confessional songwriter.
“Before that you had staff writers churning out songs,” he said.
“Without Hank Williams you don’t have Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen or Paul Simon.”
Oceans largely left it to his collaborators to choose which songs they wanted.
It is an album full of magical moments, from Kasey Chambers’ haunting vocal on Ramblin’ Man to Oceans’ sublime solo on the Tex Perkins-led Lost Highway. The album was also a family affair, with Oceans taking his wife’s advice on the cover design.
It was she who suggested Oceans get in touch with his brother, who had already produced paintings of Williams.
“The cover art is by my brother, Josh Gosfield,” he said.
“I emailed Josh, who lives in New York City, and got him to scan some of his paintings.”