Mandolins, ukulele and whistles – stories of travels across the globe, and the pull of home. Like catching up with old friends you’ve been hanging out to hear from, Farewell Fitzroy is Busby Marou’s welcome return, the highly anticipated second album from the Queensland duo. Two years on from their acclaimed self-titled debut, Farewell Fitzroy is 12 tracks of folk-pop and country-tinged song craft, distinctly Australian storytelling, and the gifted musicianship of Tom Busby and Jeremy Marou.

“For the last two years the main question has usually been, ‘So you guys are from Rockhampton?’” laughs laconic singer/songwriter Tom Busby, who kicked off writing these songs in mid 2012 . “But this album isn’t about that. The Fitzroy River runs through Rocky, which is where the title comes from. To me the title means moving on, improving and growing as a person, and musicians. We have other experiences to write about now. If there’s a theme to this album it’s talking about leaving your home – but still being in touch with it.”

Recorded with US producer/engineer Brad Jones (Missy Higgins, Josh Rouse, Justin Townes Earle) in April 2013 at his Nashville studio, Alex The Great Recording, after two solid years of touring the globe Tom and Jeremy were determined to capture  new songs with their full band sound. Tour buddies Damon ‘DJ’ Syme (drums, percussion), Vincenzo Russo (bass) and Vaughan Jones (piano, keys, electric xylophone) joined them in Tennessee. After a big first night out in the city’s famous Honky Tonk Row – where they kicked a “pretty average local country singer” off the stage to instead tear up the joint themselves with muso pals Kim Churchill and guitar virtuoso Joe Robinson (the latter appears on “Widow”) – Busby Marou got to work. The friends spent a month literally sleeping in the studio... which, by the way, was haunted.

“Our drummer is a mortician by trade, nothing scares him,” Jeremy tells. “He woke up in the middle of the night feeling a body on top of him, pushing his chest down. I kept thinking there was a bat flying in the room, and when I’d turn the light on there’d be nothing. It was freaky!”

“Brad’s real and honest,” answers Tom, when asked about the recording sessions. “We consider ourselves a quality live band, and we were very conscious of nailing that this time. We knew Brad was going to track everything live, using awesome loops, no clicks... I was very excited. He let our music speak for itself.”

On stage, Busby Marou’s core element – the intertwining vocal interplay of the two long-time pals – is magic. “Brad was very good at recording our vocals,” Jeremy says. “All the feedback we received from our first album was about how good Tom and I sounded together when it’s just us and a guitar, and it felt like we’d never really got that properly before. Brad’s done a fair job of capturing that on this album.”

These are stories of our land, from suburban love songs to memories of the Kimberley. Opener “My Second Mistake” turns a shuffling beat and soulful keys into a tale of fidelity, Catholic guilt, and growing up. Anthemic single “Get You Out Of Here” is straight from the heart, charting the ups and downs of long-distance romance with its triumphant, soaring chorus. A lone harmonica and acoustic strum introduces “Cruel To Be Kind”, the true story of a husband in love with his wife – who’s unfortunately living next door. “Over My Dead Body” is classic Busby Marou; the funky “Gameplan” captures the full band rocking out; “Widow” sifts through the debris of a big night out. And then there’s the elegant, road worthy “Luke” – co-written with Aussie songwriting royalty, Don Walker (Cold Chisel, Tex, Don and Charlie).

For Tom, writing with one of Australia’s finest songsmiths, Don Walker, was a special experience, and one the pair plan to repeat. “He has such a gentle, experienced touch,” says Tom. “He asked if I’d done a lot of travelling, as the music was reminding him of a guy who was wandering throughout Australia, reflecting on his life, but with no regrets... even if he had nothing to his name. My uncle and my father lived like that. It was a great process.”

Wisely, Busby Marou also made use of the fact that they were recording in one of the world’s finest music cities, enlisting special Nashville guests John Deadrick (piano and keys) and Chris Carmichael (strings) in the studio, as well as legendary pedal steel and Hawaiian kona guitarist Al Perkins (The Flying Burrito Brothers, Emmylou Harris, The Rolling Stones – he appears on “Luck” and “My Second Mistake”).

“Tom’s a storyteller, extremely good with his words,” Jeremy says of his raconteur band-mate. “On the first album we were a duo, but now we’re a full band – and that’s what you’re hearing on this new record, the full Busby Marou sound.”

Tom is equally full of praise. “Jeremy has this incredibly talent as a musician, he can play anything. On this, we want to come across as being honest and real. We’re not trying to be anything we’re not.”

Unpretentious, best mates, and always ready to have fun, Farewell Fitzroy is Busby Marou’s finest hour yet. These songs will leave you cheering for more.

Farewell Fitzroy is released on Friday 4 August via Footstomp Music/Warner Music Australia.