Remember that Missy Higgins chick? Yeah, the one with the painfully inoffensive acoustic pop songs that just wouldn’t die a quick death, lingering in the airwaves and permeating into ads and TV spots until even her fans started to get annoyed. Well, there’s another female Australian singer-songwriter who has been doing the same thing, only for some time longer and a quite whole lot better.
“I thought it was a good time to take one” Sarah Blasko explains of her recent seven day escape from the rigour of releasing her new album, As Day Follows Night.
It’s her third long player, but that didn’t mean there was less stress in the studio. “I think I find a lot of things stressful” she laughs. “I don’t think this one got any easier than the last one. I think subconsciously I like to make things difficult for myself.”
She’s alluding to the fact that for As Day Follows Night, Blasko travelled to Sweden, the frozen land of mead horns and wenches to do the recording. “I just thought ‘what the hell?’” she explains. “It was a great place to be, and I was really excited to be there but there was a moment there when I wondered what the heck I was doing.”
The catharsis at the end of the stressful rainbow of writing and recording will come when she gets her hands on a physical copy of the album, and can finally share it with the world.
“It’s like you’ve been waiting for years for the right guy to come along and then you meet him and you just want to show him off.”
Just like meeting a life partner though recording the album was a big move, one that took Blasko right out of her comfort zone.
“It was really liberating, but it was a little bit scary. I wasn’t sure whether I was capable of it. Feeling like you’re the leader of something, it’s a stressful thing, but that’s what’s exhilarating about it at the same time. It’s your vision, your ideas and all these wonderful people are helping you achieve it.”
On her last two records, fellow songwriter Robert F Cranny was on hand to co-write and produce her work. This time around the pressure was on – she was on her own working with a Swedish producer, Peter, Bjorn & John’s Bjorn Yttling, someone she’d never met before and who wasn’t really familiar with her back catalogue.
“To me that was a really important part of this record. He was somebody who heard the songs as they were and what I wanted to do with them and took them completely at face value. He wasn’t concerned about the past and to me that was really liberating.”
The more shoegaze-acoustic-balladry sound of Blasko’s earlier albums has changed with the times and, perhaps, maturity. Working with Yttling, discovering “new, or different ways of doing things in the studio” on the new album too has given Blasko the chance to shape the overall intent of the record.
“The new album, I think it’s very different. I think you’ll hear people saying it’s a departure but I don’t think that can be true when you’re a solo artist. I feel the new album is more true to myself than the other records. I feel like it’s quite strong in that sense.”
The sometimes sparse arrangements on As Day Follows Night, “some parts of songs there’s little else than vocals, double bass and drums” give way at moments to the grandeur of strings, a bit of instrumental saw, baritone saxophones and banjos.
Hitting the road soon in support of the new album, Blasko tells me she’ll have a decidedly different collection of instruments with her in an attempt to convey the fuller, grandiose sound of her new work. Of her back catalogue, Blasko says, “I’ll definitely do the old stuff, but I think I want to kind of reinvent them a bit. I’ll have to find a way of adapting them to this new sound. In a way it’s kind of a jazz sound, the new record.”
If you’re not going to catch Sarah at Splendour, she’s doing shows with Jack Ladder in Bellingen on July 23rd and Lismore on July 24th otherwise keep your eyes and ears peeled for her national tour in October and Novemeber. As Day Follows Night is out July 10th on Dew Process.