looch free dirtFree Dirt – Looch Lewis (Nebraska/MGM)

With beginnings as a guitarist in the high energy scene for Zen Genies, and more recent  service as drummer for bush punks Handsome Young Strangers, indie band Wifey and country act Dave Favours and the Roadside Ashes, ubiquitous Mark “Looch” Lewis  has as much claim as anyone to being a Sydney musical fixture. 

Now fronting his own Looch Lewis and The Press Gangsters instead of playing in other people’s bands, dropping this a solo single seems a logical progression.

Yes, it is that “Free Dirt”, the Died Pretty song from which they took their debut album’s name and that ended up on their second LP, ”Lost”, and while it might initially seem a bold choice, it’s done so well that it raises the question why more people haven’t tackled the much-loved music of Ron, Brett and Co.

Looch is assisted by Drizabone Dion Dickinson on mandolin, Matt Galvin on acoustic guitar and Jadey O’Regan on keys, but it’s vocalist Peta Caswell who puts on the star turn, mixing it in a duet with the frontman (who’s no slacker in the pipes department, it should be said.) Looch and crew treat the song with respect (because who fucks with perfection?) and their version retains the original's tenderness and vulnerability. In a word: stunning.

It’s digital only, streaming and download via all the usual places, on July 23. It was supposed to be marked with a full-band gig next week but, you know, plague. Listen to the pre-release link here.

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