Dynamic Melburnian blues rocker Dan Sultan finally unveiled his latest full-length studio effort, Blackbird, last week, amid a wave of intense hype. Recorded with award-winning producer Jacquire King in the Nashville studio whose name it bears, Blackbird is a fresh start for this soulful songsmith.
“It’s like therapy,” says Dan of his latest slice of smouldering yet tender blues-tinged rock, and the follow-up to 2009’s Get Out While You Can. “You go through what you’re going through and that can be pretty heavy. And then you write about what you’ve been through, which can be therapeutic.”
To get a window into the process behind Blackbird, we got Dan himself to give us a rundown of each track on the album, sharing with Music Feeds everything from when and where songs were written and who they written with, to which track was written in between sessions of beer and parmas.
Watch: Dan Sultan – Under Your Skin
1. Make Me Slip
It’s the first song we did in the recording sessions. We came back the next day to finish off a few things and I realised that the bass guitar was sharp, so we had to start it all over again. That ended up being the only hiccup on the record. It’s a song about when you see someone and they “make you slip” ’cause of how cool they are.
2. Can’t Blame Me
This is about being in a relationship that keeps fucking up and just saying that it’s not your fault all the time and sticking up for yourself. I wrote this song with Andy Stochansky and his partner Keith Varon.
3. Under Your Skin
This is a creepy song about an obsessed, murderous, drug addicted stalker who eventually plays out their fantasies. It’s a love song. I wrote this with Alex Burnett from Sparkadia and Pip Norman from TZU.
4. High St Riot
This song was finished days before going into the studio and started almost a decade ago. It’s about making changes and shaking things up for a better change or out of necessity. The song ended up a lot grander than I originally thought with big baritone guitar, a pulsing bass and thumping drums. The big sweeping BVs helped out as well.
5. Ain’t Thinking About You
I wrote this song over 10 years ago and was just waiting for the right time and place to record it with its swampy grooves and soulfulness. Last year in Tennessee was that time and place.
6. Kimberly Calling
This is a song about traveling up through the Buccaneer Archipelago in The Kimberley and reconnecting with family up there. This is one of the more fun tracks from the album to play live.
7. The Same Man
It’s about when a relationship has ended and you think it’s the other person’s fault ’cause they’ve changed and they say it’s your fault ’cause you haven’t changed! Enough said. Ilya Toschinskey is a Russian living in Nashville playing hillbilly/oriental/arabic style banjo on an Australian rock and roll record, United Nations eat your heart out.
8. Nobody Knows
This is about being in love with someone that you can never, for whatever reason, have! And they love you too but it can’t happen — maybe in the next life!
9. Waiting On The End Of The Phone
I wrote this song with my good mate Jan Skubiszewski at his studio in Hawthorn. We spent the first couple of hours across the road at the pub and then came back and did the song in the following hour, then went back to the pub for parmas!
10. It Belongs To Us
This is a song that for me is about everything in your life coming to a head — it’s crunch time and you either sink or swim! I’ve heard a few other interpretations of what people think this song is about, and that’s the beauty of it. Once the song is out, people can take what they want from it.
11. No More Explanations
Means not having to explain myself. The lyrics speak for themselves. I wrote this with my mate Chris Cester from Jet.
12. Loving’s Just For Fools
This song takes a cynical view of love, implying that you’d have to be an idiot to be in love. It then ends on a more positive note, proclaiming that I am an idiot and in love!
13. Gullible Few
Similar to Loving’s Just For Fools in its intent. This song wasn’t meant to be on the album. I played Jacquire a demo of it that he hadn’t heard and he agreed with me that we should give it a go. At the end of a big day he asked me to go in and play it by myself on piano so we could learn the song for the next day as we hadn’t done any work on it till then.
After getting a take down with just vocal and piano, we all decided that we shouldn’t touch it. It was an emotional moment.
Dan Sultan’s new album ‘Blackbird’ is available now. See Dan on his upcoming national tour — full details here.