Sound of the Plover

Sound Of The Plover

11 Tracks inspired by the oceans, mountains, forests and history of Tasmania. Themes of island life, the struggle for work and survival, true stories of sealers, Palewa freedom fighters, love and shipwrecks.

Influences from traditional and folk sources, a wide array of instruments and a good dose of rock.

Track Listing

  1. Bushfire
  2. Sound of the Plover
  3. Long Last Look
  4. Italians on the Railway
  5. Bonny Ship The Diamond
  6. Fisherwidows
  7. Glass of Beer
  8. Jack of Cape Grim
  9. Happiness
  10. Hobart Town
  11. Sealers / Ships are Sailing


Liner Notes

All songs words & music James Brook Except Italians tune trad, Bonny Ship, Glass o’ Beer trad, Ships are Sailing trad.
Sealers words James Brook. Music James & Laurie Agar.
vocals guitars mandolin cymbols banjolin: James Brook
fiddle whistle: Roland Smethurst
mandolin banjolin: Zac
drumkit djembe: Brendan Kays
cello: Anna Spinaze
harmonica on Bushfire: Peter Hicks
harmonica on Jack & Bonny Ship: Kai
bass: Tim Gray
piano: Paul
electric guitar on Sealers: Michael Gooche
piano on Hobart: Leigh Ritson

cover art: Andy Gillies James Brook
Mixed & Mastered by Geoff Francis Huon Delta Studios except Hobart Town recorded by Leigh Ritson
produced by Geoff & James
Thanks to all who gave so much support in making this CD.
Jordan for photos, Clint & Matt for ears.
Jill for Italian story. Tas Fire Service for radio samples
Laurie for Skreech Tramp years. Jim and Viv. Scott for getting me to read Jack of Cape Grim by Jan Roberts. Fi.
Fisherwidows written on Bass Strait 2003 for Hatch & the crews of Monica III + Seahome.
Pelverata Progress Association for use of hall in recording. Growlin’ Swallot
Penguin photo by Pablo
To Nerissa & Tallula for all the great times we had in the years that these songs were written.
Recorded & Mixed Dec 2004 – June 2005.



“Listening to this often delicate CD it is hard to believe where Brook hails from. He is a core member of anarchy-political-punk outfit Ecowar, which spends time touring a brutal show around Europe.

On Plover, Brook shows off a softer side with beautifully constructed alt-folk and indie tunes. His lyrical focus is about as far away from politics as you could imagine. Plover is for the most part inspired by life in Tasmania, in particular our history.

Brook sings stories of our maritime history with the conviction of someone who was there. This is his greatest gift. The ability to communicate grand ideas on a variety of different levels.

Plover is an album lacking in pretensions or posturing.
Instead of bravado he milks the cow with raw energy and colourful, intriguing song-writing. Brook sold his first album on cassette back in 1994.

This CD seems a long way from those good old days, it is professionally produced and the material benefits greatly from it.”

– review by Jarrad Bevan for Attitude, The Mercury Newspaper 2006


“James Brook’s CD is acoustic/indie in style, and is a collection of songs for the most part about aspects of life in Tasmania, both present and past. Historical elements are the strongest, with several songs about the maritime history of Tasmania. The raw collision and confrontation with the elements experienced by the whalers, sealers and fishermen is a strong theme in these passionately conveyed and highly individual songs. The battle against elements, the fierce nature of this land, is also the theme of the opening track, Bushfire, about the present day threat to our homes and settlements which most Australians are very aware of.

Sound of the Plover is a strong album from a songwriter with a lot to offer. The title will strike a chord with many people who live in the rural areas of Tasmania, as the plover’s cry is an iconic sound, heard day and night in the fields and coasts. The title track is a reminder of a need to re-create the sort of world where people rather than faceless corporations have control over their lives and environment – a wake up call that should be as persistent as the wild cry Brook has taken as his metaphor.

The musicians: James Brook – guitars, mandolin, cymbals, banjolin; Roland Smethurst – fiddle, whistle; Zac – mandolin, banjolin; Brendan Keys – drumkit, djembe; Anna Spinaze – cello; plus guest players on some track, Peter Hicks, Tim Gray, Paul, Kai, Michael Gooche, Leigh Ritson.”

– review by Malcolm Fielding for 2005


“James Brook clearly understands part of the challenge for contemporary folk and acoustic writers or performers is to refurbish the continuing and essential pre-occupation of that genre: to document the ordinary life with dignity, interest and colour. From the first bar of the first track this set burns with a graphic intensity and a passion for the true lives lived around this unusual artist. There are traditional cover songs but these are presented with such originality the listener will discover the stories and the experience with new zest. The recording and playing style is lean and hungry, which gives this CD its raw energy. But there’s no lack of intimacy in this atmosphere.

The players seem to have had a great time and although they seem not to be a regular “band” as such, they’ve read and understood each other very well. Brook manages his own compositions sympathetically to the tone he’s set with the traditional songs, so that the entire set has wholeness about it. Much of this is due to his unabashed and gritty vocal, which handles changes of mood and pace successfully.

My only one slight issue is the credits on the cover – I think it’s important have full names for all performers particularly if they play on other CDs as this is of interest not only to local fans but people much further away. So unless the “Paul”, “Zac” and “Kai” are in witness protection, let’s know who they are?

But perhaps this is a part of the familiar and unpretentious aura of the set – which is what makes Sound of the Plover stand out. Brook’s playing is straight at you, at times fast paced and is the pulse that gives this music its charm and life. Brook’s Ozzy accent may take a while for the non-Ozzy to totally understand, but you’ll find you want to give it the time. A great effort from Tasmania, where the sound of the plover is unique, eerie and exotic. The tracks that stood out for me were (1) Bushfire, (8) Jack of Cape Grim and (9) Hobart Town.”

– Ian Paulin, 2005 Malcolm Fielding – the independent music specialist