Review: Sally Seltmann – Hey Daydreamer

Hey Daydreamer is Sally Seltmann’s second album under her own name, after releasing her first two as New Buffalo. Since ditching the moniker, Seltmann has risen to be an intelligent and honest voice within the Australian musical landscape. While her quaint third album, Harmony To My Heartbeat, drew widespread approval, it was her inclusion in singer-songwriter supergroup Seeker Lover Keeper with Holly Throsby and Sarah Blasko that brought in the accolades.

In a way, Hey Daydreamer borrows elements from both of the ladies with whom she shared the SLK project. There are hints of Blasko’s sprawling orchestral arrangements and Throsby’s vivid narratives throughout the record. That, combined with her own penchant for experimental instrumentation and harmonies, makes for her most rounded and skilled project yet.

Seltmann’s unmatched attention to detail creates a fairytale world of acute resolution. Galloping, country-entangled percussion takes us travelling on Needle In The Hay, while Billy sounds as though it’s been plucked from the golden days of cinema.

Watch: Sally Seltmann – Billy

Despite the vivid imagery, Seltmann has pared-back the instrumentation significantly. She’s made intelligent choices as to when to inject effective shots of brass or percussion, allowing her voice to sit at the forefront and play narrator. On I Will Not Wear Your Wedding Ring, she slinks around a musical backdrop straight out of a classic crime thriller as she tells her man to “go back to where you came from”.

Hey Daydreamer is a record of “danger, devotion, freedom and fear”, as Seltmann eloquently puts it in Billy. Musically it’s perky, but lyrically there is a deep longing for home that moves her into moments of darkness. The title track is a fitting example of this. The orchestral instrumentation evokes whimsical imagery, while Seltmann trills, “I’ve been away too long…I will not pretend I’m happy”.

The dark lyrics paired with the fairytale-like music is a hard juxtaposition to get your head around at first, but as she so often does, Seltmann explains it formidably. “There’s a sunny disposition on the outside, but it’s a shady place I live in on the inside”, she sings in Holly Drive. It reveals that at its core, Hey Daydremaer is a record full of self-doubt and fear, peppered with the knowledge that happiness does exist somewhere.

It’s a testament to Seltmann’s musical partnership with husband and Avalanches member Darren Seltmann that she sounds so comfortable in exploring topics of discontent. Hey Daydreamer never sounds frosty, instead it feels like creeping sunlight, masterfully created and delivered with heart on sleeve.

Watch: Sally Seltmann – Needle In The Hay

Sally Seltmann’s new album, ‘Hey Daydreamer’, is out Friday, 28th February. Catch Sally on her ‘Hey Daydreamer Album Tour’ this April – details here.

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