Love Letter To A Record: Jack Colwell On Sarah Blasko’s ‘What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Jack Colwell – ‘What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have’ by Sarah Blasko (2006)

The first time I heard Sarah Blasko was on a sticky Boxing Day. I was spending it with a high school friend’s family, cooped up in a small Sydney backyard covered in concrete. I remember the family had a very limited CD collection, and after hours of carols about the winter snow, when the blowflies had come to land on the left-out trays of food, it was finally my turn to rifle through the shoebox of CDs and pick something.

I’d never heard of Sarah before, but being a classical music geek, the title of her first album The Overture and the Underscore spoke to me. It was serious. They say never to judge something by its title, but here was an exception to the rule.

It wasn’t long after that Sarah’s second album, What the Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have was released. I was in Year 10, saving my lunch money to buy a weekly CD at JB Hi-Fi, and the video for ‘Explain’ – the first popular song I’d ever heard with a bassoon – was inescapable on RAGE. The video was a fairytale of sorts: a story told from the point of view of animals being forced to leave their homes due to mankind’s destruction. I was in love.

The CD was $19.99 and I had just enough money to get it. The young guy at the counter was super nice and let me have it a couple of dollars cheaper, and even threw in a giant horizontal poster that featured the album artwork (Sarah’s hair as a stormy sea, with birds gliding above the high seas a.k.a. Sarah’s hair). The poster was immediately a prized possession – I took it straight home and blu-tacked it above my upright piano in the hope that I would write an album like Sarah’s one day.

As I was falling in love with Sarah’s music, I was also falling in love with my first boyfriend – who made me numerous mix CDs featuring some of Sarah’s songs from her first album, and who also wanted to be a singer himself. He seemed like a dream. But, shortly after we met, I was whisked away on a family holiday overseas! Devastated, I spent the trip at internet cafes through Europe signing into MSN Messenger to see if he was online.

Shortly after returning from the trip, things became serious, but then abruptly ended as my super-cool dream boyfriend admitted to me he was actually in love with his best friend. We climbed out of our bedroom windows and met in the middle of the night on Dee Why beach to break up, and listened to ‘Always on this Line’ on his iPod headphones. When I got home, as was customary at the time, I changed my MSN user name to some song lyrics – as a sad, gay sixteen-year-old, ‘Queen of Apology’ seemed appropriate.

When I was 19, I moved from the house I grew up in. After being stuck to the wall above my upright piano for four years, the What the Sea Wants… poster ripped as I tried to carefully pull it from the wall. I put the torn pieces in a box which I believe is still in my parents’ new garage, along with the mix CDs my first boyfriend gave me.

A few years ago I released an EP, Only When Flooded Could I Let Go, which was actually inspired by Sarah’s album title. I didn’t know it at the time, but shortly after I released it I ended up meeting and going on tour with Sarah. It’s funny sometimes when things come full circle.

Jack Colwell is preparing to release his debut album, which his idol Sarah Blasko produced. The first single – a dark, cinematic called In My Dreams – is out now. Check it out below.

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