|Sarah Blasko — I Awake (2012)|
Sarah Blasko — I Awake
Birth name: Sarah Elizabeth Blaskow
Born: 23 September 1976
Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia ~ Réunion ~
Album release: October 26, 2012
Recorded: April — August 2012 at Atlantic Studios, Stockholm, Sweden
Record Label: Dew Process/UMA/Universal
01. I Awake 3:28
02. An Arrow 3:22
03. Bury This 3:08
04. God Fearing 4:34
05. All of Me 4:30
06. New Country 4:03
07. Here 4:34
08. Illusory Light 4:03
09. Fool 3:29
10. Cast The Net 3:53
11. An Oyster, A Pearl 4:21
12. Not Yet 3:24
¶ Blasko is known for her vintage tastes in clothes, music and art, and she revealed in a Rolling Stone (Australia) interview: “I like things that are old and have been lived in. It probably started as a kid when my family shopped at Vinnie’s because we hardly had any money. I like things that stand the test of time.”
¶ Blasko has won two Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Music Awards from 14 nominations.
Interview by Darren Levin
¶ Fri 26th Oct, 2012 in Features
¶ From legendary Italian composer Ennio Morricone to her stint beside the seaside in Brighton, Sarah Blasko talks us through the inspiration behind her new album I Awake.
¶ Ennio Morricone at Royal Albert Hall, London 2010
¶ When I first got to England I went to see [Italian composer] Ennio Morricone at Royal Albert Hall. It was quite ridiculous: 100–piece choir, 100–piece orchestra, a couple other singers and he was just conducting. And I just thought, “I’m so going to do an album with an orchestra.” [Laughs] I didn’t how it was going to happen, but it was going to happen. And then I started thinking about the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra. ¶ That was a big moment.
Did your label take a long time to get back to you on that one?
¶ [Laughs] Not as long as I would’ve imagined. That’s why I went into such shock. It took a moment, but then I was left to my own devices for months which was pretty amazing.
¶ Brighton, England
¶ Even now when I hear the recordings back, I can’t help but think about Brighton. That was such a big visual part of the landscape of the album.
Is it important for you to be close to the water?
¶ Not really. I’m living somewhere close to the water now which is nice. I’d been living in Newtown [in Sydney] for 10 to 15 years before that.
¶ The ukulele
¶ It really helped to inspire the album. It’s something I’ve never played before. I always thought of it as a joke instrument. [Laughs] But this particular ukulele had a warm tone. It almost sounded like a harp. The first few songs I wrote was with ukulele. That’s when I thought, “I’m seeing a different album here.” You’re always waiting for that point where it’s like, “Aha! I’ve got it. Phew!” [Laughs]
Is there a story attached to it? Where did you get it?
¶ I just borrowed it from a friend. They left it at my house and I started playing it. I couldn’t stop playing it. I had it in the wrong tuning. I never know about tunings anyway. I’m really bad at that stuff. But it spoke to me. There was something about it. It’s that tone.
Will you play it live?
¶ Yeah, if I’m not too scared. [Laughs]
¶ ‘Avalanche’ by Leonard Cohen
¶ It was something I heard so many years ago. I was also listening to a lot of Serge Gainsbourg. When that orchestra comes in, it’s the full impact. They [the strings] are in or they’re out, and when they’re in they hit you in the face. That’s definitely what I wanted to do with the record. I don’t want to make a gentle orchestral album. I wanted it to be striking, scary, overwhelming — these were all words we used a lot.
¶ Have you met Leonard Cohen?
¶ No, I’ve never met him. I’m not sure I’d want to. [Laughs]
¶ Paul Auster
¶ I was having a bit of an Auster–fest at the time. I read some of his memoirs. There’s one called Hand To Mouth about his writing process and struggles. And another one that’s about his father, The Invention of Solitude. I got really caught up in his writing.
¶ Did it inspire your own lyrics?
¶ Yeah, it did. He’s very philosophical. I like his tone, it’s hard to put into words … I find him inspiring. I really enjoyed just reading his autobiographical stuff. He’s a very honest writer.
SIMON COLLINS, The West Australian; October 25, 2012, 10:02 am / 4,5 stars
¶ Sydney songstress Sarah Blasko exudes a quiet strength on her exquisite fourth album, I Awake, self–produced and recorded in Sweden and Bulgaria.
¶ The potency comes from the honesty of her lyrics, whether confessing that she knew a romance was doomed from day one but played it out anyway (Illusory Light) or owning her own decision to move on (New Country). “I forgot I was strong,” the 36–year–old sings on Fool, a relatively straight old-school torch song, whereas she needs no reminding of her worth on the defiant God–Fearing: “You have no respect for me tonight.”
¶ Her conviction melds with a confidence to allow the songs to be dressed either in the tribal percussion the title track, which opens this 12–song opus, a lone piano or acoustic guitar melody, or the full swell of the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra, as on the finale, Not Yet. Vocally she ranges from direct delivery to ensure the barbs hit home to sky-scraping falsetto that flies in tandem with the string section.
¶ This power seems to come from within this truly once-in-a-generation artist, one occasionally and speciously written off as airy–fairy, ethereal or even aloof. Blasko got close to her masterpiece with the comparatively frisky As Day Follows Night in 2009. Now the enthralling I Awake lures listeners a step further into a brilliant, intense and intimate universe.
Biography by Tammy La Gorce
¶ Australian songwriter Sarah Blasko arrived in the U.S. in 2005 with a pedigree that couldn’t be ignored: trailing a list of ARIA Award nominations in the categories of Best Album, Best Female Artist, Best Breakthrough Artist, and Best Pop Release, she also distinguished herself — and perked up the ears of rock skeptics — by being tagged somewhere along her cross–continental journey with the moniker “Girliohead.” The comparisons were not unfounded. Like Radiohead and the countless lovelorn, world-weary, too–smart–for–their–own–good British piano pounders that the band spawned, Blasko proved to be an appealing wallower. Her ethereal, at times Fiona Apple–like voice rode the gentle arrangements on her debut full–length, The Overture & the Underscore, taking care never to redirect them, and her lyrics evoked an atmospheric grace that burrowed into the mind’s dark recesses. Blasko’s head space was apparently the kind that’s allergic to daylight.
¶ Raised by missionary parents, Blasko sang her first songs in church alongside her tone–deaf mother, but the influences that came across more readily in her music derived from the ‘80s radio and television she heard as a child: Prince, David Bowie, and Eurythmics. Those popular acts, combined with the composers her professor father introduced her to — Rachmaninov, Schubert, and Bach — formed a pleasing musical jumble she would later pick apart and repackage into digestible, brainy pop. In high school, Blasko led a jazz– and blues–influenced band with her sister that soon dissolved; other bands followed, but within the space of a few years Blasko was determinedly a solo act, and also something of a homebody.
¶ An introductory EP, the six–song Prelusive, arrived in 2004 and was routinely referred to as “homespun.” But its promise propelled Blasko, who returned later that year with the full–length The Overture & the Underscore and, after racking up fans in Australia, pulled up stakes and landed in Hollywood. After the disc’s 2005 release in America, Blasko embarked on tours with the likes of Ray LaMontagne and Martha Wainwright. Her second full–length album, What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have, was released in Australia in 2006, debuting at number seven on the ARIA chart. Two years later, she decamped to Sweden and began working with Björn Yttling, who produced 2009’s As Day Follows Night — the album was released in another edition a year later in 2010, packaged with Live at the Forum.
¶ It’s the first we've heard from Blasko — in solo mode — since her 2009 J Award winning album As Day Follows Night.
¶ Chatting to Tom & Alex on triple j about the new record, Blasko said it was “probably the most difficult album” she’s ever made.
¶ “Just because I felt a little like I was jumping in the deep end because I decided to produce it and then I decided I wanted to work with an orchestra.”
¶ While she was based in Stockholm for the majority of the record Blasko also spent some time in Bulgaria to work with the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra.
¶ “I went over there for 3 days... I’ve got Bulgarian ancestry on my father’s side and my grandfather, he’s 90, still visits there a lot. I just thought it would be a really special thing to do for them and also it was a dream of mine to work with an orchestra. It was an incredible experience; nothing quite prepares you for that feeling. There were 52 string players in the room and it was just an incredible sound.”
¶ Blasko said she hopes to tour Australia with an orchestra next year.
|Sarah Blasko — I Awake (2012)|