Robert Forster: Danger in the Past review – An uneven solo start

Fri, Mar 27, 2020, 05:00


Danger in the Past

Robert Forster

Beggars Banquet/Needle Mythology

Singer / Songwriter

When Australian band The Go-Betweens disbanded in late 1989 it was, for some, the end of a golden era for indie pop-rock. The band’s primary songwriters, Grant McLennan and Robert Forster, didn’t waste much time in establishing solo careers, with the latter briskly writing and recording his debut solo album, released six months later.

As the 30th anniversary looms – and having long been out of circulation – a highly anticipated reissue arrives. Along with Forster’s second solo work, 1992’s Calling from a Country Phone (reissued simultaneously), his debut foreshadowed a preference for a worryingly unchecked level of self-satisfaction that would have been unbearable if the songs hadn’t been so often sublime.

This being said, it beggars belief that on initial release Danger in the Past drew comparisons with Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. Forster’s style here is crackling Americana and certainly Dylanesque in parts, but the songs aren’t there yet. His more recent work has settled, certainly, into a classic phase, but 30 years ago it was embryonic. And yet, as you might expect, there are gorgeous tunes here: the compact likes of The River People, I’ve Been Looking for Somebody, and Justice are folk-pop standouts on a flawed, inconsistent record that Forster describes in the liner notes as a collection of songs itching “to tell the story that an album allowed you to tell”.