“All I Want” By Sarah Blasko
How times change … a number of years ago an announcement such as “Australian songbird set to release new album” would engender the same sort of enthusiasm normally reserved for a ‘policy’ speech by David Cameron on a wet Sunday afternoon. Back in the dim and distant past such a statement was inevitably the presage to an aural assault on the nation’s ears by the latest Antipodean soap opera starlet, who would inform us with that rare form of deluded self-belief that is normally the preserve of ‘Big Brother’ contestants and beauty queens, that actually folks, it was singing that had always been her real passion. She would then prattle on about how her musical career had evolved ‘organically’ and after running out of clichés would give thanks to the middle aged ‘pop impresario’ for recognising her God given talent and affording her the opportunity to ‘follow the dream’. But that was then and this, as they say, is now, indeed things seem to have gone full circle and it is us Brits who owe the world an apology for inflicting such musical abominations as Robbie Williams, Pixie Lott , JLS and a whole host of ‘cabaret cruise ship ‘ warblers and entertainers on our poor unsuspecting ‘neighbours’. And so when an Australian artist who has won numerous awards in her native land and whose latest album is as genuinely fabulous as Sarah Blasko’s “As Day Follows Night” undoubtedly is, I somehow feel unworthy….
Whilst still relatively unknown in the UK, 2010 should see Sarah Blasko firmly embedded in the national consciousness. She is set to release her début single “I Won’t Run’ on March 22nd, followed by the aforementioned award winning album ‘As Day Follows Night’ on April 5th. Add a nationwide tour as special guest of The Temper Trap and it seems that it will be hard to resist Ms. Blasko’s redoubtable charms during the course of the year.
“As Night Follows Day” is an intentionally stripped back album, there are no gimmicks, production effects or electronic wizardry, as Sarah explains “I wanted pure, elemental songs played on acoustic instruments. I didn’t want to hide the lyrics behind electronics or effects pedals.” The risk in releasing an album with production, that those, used to flashy over produced music, may regard as skeletal is that you may fail to engage the listener. Perversely the complete opposite is true of ‘As Night Follows Day’ and the more you listen to it the more it reveals itself to you. Bjorn Yttling’s (of Peter, Bjorn and John fame) beautiful production is never invasive, and in sense is comparable to that old sporting maxim “a good referee is one you don’t notice”. The subtle instrumentation allows the vocals to breathe and gives both the lyrics and vocals an openness and emotional depth that makes listening to the album a deeply intimate experience, one in which the listener almost feels they are sharing the same space as the performer. Long-time fan and Go-Between Robert Forster described the album as “a triumph ! Blasko has written a wonderfully diverse and melodic collection….a remarkable set of songs…a wonderful record. A classic, in fact.” And he’s not wrong, it is a sublime album and one which should see her gain as many fans in Europe as she has back home in Oz. As Sarah prepared for her European launch we had a chat with her.
VP: Despite your mantle piece at home positively groaning with awards and being a multi-platinum selling artist in your native Australia, “As Day Follows Night’ is your first official release in Europe and the UK ? Why do you think it’s taken so long for your music to reach these shores ?
SARAH: I’m not sure, perhaps I wasn’t really ready to leave Australian shores and perhaps they weren’t the right records. I think this album is a good introduction to my music and I feel that new listeners will be catching me at the right time.
VP: The album’s produced by Bjorn Yttling. What were the circumstances that produced this musical union?
SARAH: I sent him a letter and some demos, he liked them, I visited him in Stockholm, we hit it off and then around 7 weeks later I found myself back in Stockholm making a record.
VP: Was it a strange experience taking your songs to Sweden and in a sense handing them over to somebody you’d never met before?
SARAH: A totally strange experience and it often feels like an incredible brave/crazy idea. It all worked out for the best though. I love the record and I learnt so much from working with Bjorn. The songs were in safe hands with Bjorn and Lasse (the mix engineer), had I fully trusted this at the beginning I might’ve had a more relaxing experience!
VP: You’ve spoken of this album as being a truthful album, indeed the album title echoes that idea whilst referencing Hamlet “And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man”. How would you define being ’truthful’ in a musical sense, do you mean lyrically or in terms of the production?
SARAH: I think both must have a truth, honesty. It’s as much in the delivery as the intent. I wanted to lay myself bare, open the windows, and unlock the doors. I think I can be a rather reserved person and a private person and I felt that the extremes of what I was experiencing in my life were worth expressing.
VP: Is this an album that’s radically different from your previous two albums?
SARAH: I think it is quite different, but I think I was getting closer to this point with the last record with the emphasis on piano and strings, but I decided to throw away the electric guitar and keyboard elements that were prominent on my first two records.
VP: You are due to tour the UK with The Temper Trap as their special guest; will this be your first big tour around our humble isle?
SARAH: I did a few shows with Tom McRae a few years back, but yes this is my first extensive tour. I’m really looking forward to it.
VP: Which artists have had the biggest influences on you?
SARAH: David Byrne, Bjork, PJ Harvey, Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
VP: What was the first album you remember buying?
SARAH: The BROS album when I was 11.
VP: On you’re a previous album sleeve notes you left this cryptic message ‘Just because you’re in a band, it doesn’t mean we have to be friends’ could you elaborate ?
SARAH: It was meant to be a light-hearted joke about people thanking every band they’ve ever know on their album sleeves. But, I think that unfortunately it comes across as a bit rude! I didn’t mean it to. I put this in the sleeve of my first album, so I wrote this a while ago. Forgive me!
VP: What five things put you in the perfect frame of mind to write songs ?
SARAH: An inspiring gig, an empty house, a beautiful piano, deadlines, melancholy.
“We Won’t Run ” by Sarah Blasko
“No Turning Back” By Sarah Blasko
“All I Want” By Sarah Blasko
“Bird On A Wire” By Sarah Blasko
“Hold On My Heart” Live By Sarah Blasko
27 April – O2 Academy Bournemouth
28 April – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London- SOLD OUT
29 April – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London – SOLD OUT
30 April – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London – SOLD OUT
1 May – University, Cardiff
3 May – Rock City, Nottingham
4 May – Birmingham O2 Academy
5 May – UEA, Norwich
9 May – The Academy, Manchester – SOLD OUT
10 May – Newcastle O2 Academy
11 May – Leeds O2 Academy
13 May – Glasgow O2 Academy
14 May – The HMV Picture House, Edinburgh
16 May – Liverpool O2 Academy – SOLD OUT