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D.C. Maxwell - Album Review: Lone Rider

24 Oct 2023 // A review by roger.bowie

I’ve Been Wrong, but every once in a while, someone comes along and knocks you out. Random violence is not what this is about, but D.C. Maxwell sings about it, a lot, in a heartfelt, Marlon kind of way and last month at the Wine Cellar, during the Going Global showcases I received the figurative gut punch and uppercut and there I was, dumbfounded and struck.

I’ve been wrong before, but not very often, and D.C. Maxwell’s debut album, Lone Rider, announces a rare talent in the neo-punk noir country space, places occupied before by the likes of Elvis Costello and Nick Cave and Delaney Davidson & Marlon Williams, and Darcy Clay and you get a clue in the opening track which is a simple ballad pleading for understanding, I’ve Been Wrong but really I’m a good man, and just about the time when there’s a reference to being as evil as Darcy Clay’s Jesus, there’s a cacophony of saxophone (which could only be JY Lee) to tell you that all is not as it seems.

No, indeed, things are not as they seem, for The Leading Man, drunk as a skunk on stage and muffing his lines is about to be taken out, live, then dead, on stage, by the one-line actor “I’m going to kill you” and he does, to rapturous applause.

D.C. Maxwell used to be in a punk band, and it shows in his moves, as contorted as his voice can be, an occasional explosion of gyration you would see in Jon Spencer. A punk riding horses, and the blatant criminality continues with Out Stealing Horses all blood and guts and Enrico and spaghetti and of course they are way out west, a lady with her horse thief man, and it doesn’t end well, just a repeated drum roll as the dawn arrives too late. 

This is primarily an album review, but picture this also, if you please, a band and a string ensemble in St Mary’s in Holy Trinity, the holiest of acoustic perfection and the song is about an alcoholic desperate for a drink as he picks up his daughter from rehab after a fatal crash, more booming spaghetti western guitar, why, oh why, only Silence in the Sky for an answer. Picture that, because D.C. Maxwell finished the release tour for his album on a recent September Friday night in church, begging forgiveness for being so dark and enthralling and just about perfect, a Lone Rider in the rain, heavenly strings from Charmian Key (at least on the record). 

Peter Ruddell on piano introduces the jilted bride at the altar Waiting For My Man To Come, a sad song which echoes Elton John's great songs from the west coast and the jilted bride is now old and still waiting.

And the tales of murder and mayhem and thievery unfold, both real and symbolic, suppressed in the banality of ordinary bland lives lived blandly, if it weren’t for the dark secrets that exist along the Faultline(s) of the human condition. All is never as it seems.

Which erupts into the unequivocal, as the unhinged bank robber cuts loose on his hostages when the alarm is triggered and so is he. It’s not his fault of course, but everyone must die, and the confronting nature of the lyric is mellowed by the music which marches on regardless. An unfortunately topical song of violence and desperation, especially when The Last Stand of the Killer is performed live in church.

Things have to simmer down after this, but the darkness abides, a tale about the Prizefighter, suffering at home in battered silence after the glory of the victory.

And it ends in the morning with you, I’m With You, a sweet ballad no longer of murder but of love and hope and normality and the aforementioned banality of life, and after the journey D.C. Maxwell has taken us on, it is calming and therapeutic to bask in everyday life lived simply with over and not under tones and which sounds like a hymn when sung live in church. Redemptive. 

Whew… check out D.C.Maxwell’s debut release, Lone Rider. It’s out on Danger Collective Records which is no coincidence. And it’s quite extraordinary.


About D.C. Maxwell

D.C. Maxwell is an alt-country singer-songwriter from T?maki Makaurau, New Zealand.

With the frenetic energy of a punk preacher, Maxwell puts a new spin on the 1970's outlaw country of Lee Hazlewood and Townes Van Zandt.

A troubadour, a magnetic performer, but foremost a storyteller, Maxwell’s live show see’s him physically embody each of his song’s characters with passion. The mosaic of his songs creates a world of love and loss in roadside motel rooms, and the inner lives of small town dreamers majestic as the plains.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for D.C. Maxwell


Lone Rider
Year: 2023
Type: Album

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