Sarah Blasko to release What The Sea Wants The Sea Will Have
Sarah Blasko’s first album, “The Overture & the Underscore”, propelled her into the public consciousness as a purveyor of inventive, intelligent pop music, sparking critical acclaim, a raft of ARIA nominations, a Gold album, sold-out tours and a performance at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.
Recording in April this year, Sarah set to task bringing to life a brand new set of songs she only began working on this year. In a strange twist of fate, Blasko headed straight from her performance of the Crowded House flagship number, "Don't Dream It's Over", at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, to Neil Finn's own Roundhead Studios, in Auckland, New Zealand.
Artist: Sarah Blasko
Title: What The Sea Wants The Sea Will Have
Release date: 09/11/07
Label: Low Altitude Records
Buy at: Amazon
Working again with loyal accomplice, Robert F Cranny, the pair brought in the talent and experience of Jim Moginie to assist with the production of the recordings. Blasko first encountered Moginie personally when collaborating with him on her version of "Flame Trees", although he is better known to many as a songwriter & multi-instrumentalist with legendary Australian band, Midnight Oil.
Complementing the freshness of these new compositions, Sarah took a four-piece band into the studio – a converted former ballroom – where the twelve new tracks were recorded live in the spacious and ornate surrounds by engineer Paul McKercher.
Finally, the project was mixed by Victor Van Vugt, an ex-pat Melbournian who has a long association with icons of the Australian music world, Nick Cave and Dave Graney.
Thematically, the album is an exploration of fatalism. Using the unpredictable ebbs and flows of the sea as her metaphor, Blasko looks at fate with a learned reverence, but with the maturity to set sail in spite of uncertainty, and the courage to use her own former shipwrecks as seamarks.
Sarah Blasko spent her youth in the suburbs of Sydney, in a family whose journeys of faith steered her through numerous religious denominations. Through the church, school and her Father’s oddball record collection, she was introduced to music quite accidentally, and has no formal training to speak of.
Having ventured out into the bright lights of Hollywood to record her last album, Sarah has spent two years touring the world only to find that Australia has a musical heritage as rich as anywhere else in the world.
The result is her second album, “What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have”. Recorded swiftly, the album displays a more succinct, a more lucid and a more forthright Sarah Blasko. Her lyrics shoot straight and the instrumentation is clear and purposeful in its application.
Despite Blasko’s grace in the face of her humble achievements thus far, her confidence must have grown a little. She has tiptoed amongst the shadows of people like Jim Moginie, Neil Finn, Paul McKercher & Victor Van Vugt – people whose contribution to music stretches back into her suburban youth. Yet Sarah has emerged into the sunlight on the other side unflinchingly still herself.
“What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have” is released on the XX of October, on Dew Process Records, through Universal Music Australia.
Track by Track
Sarah Blasko’s new album takes the form of a voyage. Entitled “What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have”, it steers its helm through nautical themes and scenes, drawing on our defencelessness in the face of nature and our fragility under the weight of the sea.
Building slowly and deliberately to its climax, Blasko’s second album is one that grows and develops throughout, and one that will hopefully grow and develop with each further listen.
A mature and thoughtful collection of songs and a bold release for an artist still largely unknown to most, “What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have” marks the emergence of an important and original talent.
Track 1 - ‘For You’
“I’ve learnt a lot about you, In turn, much about me too,
I travelled across the sea, I wept for you”
On first listen, “What The Sea Wants…” appears to begin at the end. “I travelled across the sea”, declares Sarah in the album’s opening stanza, as though the narrative is over before it began.
One might feel that the first rule of storytelling is broken if the conclusion is betrayed at the outset. How else can we feel the true impact of the elements on our frail vessel if all threats to our survival are removed?
However, it is not the conclusion Sarah would have us triumph over. Rather, it is the journey itself. We must sail on vigilantly, facing our challenges; not merely clench our teeth in hope that the wind blows us to safety.
Track 2 - ‘The Garden’s End’
“For the garden’s end is where the wilderness begins”
Still on dry land, ‘The Garden’s End’ introduces the first guitars to the album. A fast-paced, second-person narrative sees Sarah chased through wilderness by an unnamed assailant.
This song calls for the facing of truths. It is about pride, of the desire to humble the proud and the powerful: “And if you cut your hair I might leave a map” – like the biblical Solomon whose power lay in his hair.
Track 3 - ‘[explain]’
“You say that our love can’t be a pattern in your palm
You say that our love is only mapped…”
The album’s third track is a nostalgic number. A humble piano line is offset by brooding violins and punctuated by rarely-heard orchestral friend, the bassoon. The song recounts the factories of a once-fond industrial town whose landscape is changing forever. It is about embracing change despite the uncertainty it may hold; about making a choice even when you can’t control the outcome.
Cleverly, the animated video that accompanies the track turns the story on its head. Casting the setting back in time to before the town is built, it sets the focus on how changes made then may have affected the former inhabitants. In that retelling, it is a cast of forest animals, animated by Lucy Dyson and Isobel Knowles, whose world is changing.
Track 4 - ‘The Albatross’
“Fear lies beside me, a vessel, an army that threatens the night
The wind is whispering, howling and hissing: ‘be unafraid’”
Reviving Coleridge’s doomed albatross, Track 4 is where our voyage begins. With percussion emulating the creaks and lapping currents heard on a boat in harbour, Blasko finds a ghostly ally in the wind, which whispers to her not to fear the sea.
This song at once deals with embracing the inevitable - of parting ways with the past - and with the sadness that comes with such a parting. In this case, the burden of guilt is the memory of a joyous past, now gone.
Not for the last time on the album, ‘The Albatross’ wrestles with change. This subject must hold some weight for the author as she delves through cycles of change in ‘For You’, confronting change in ‘[explain]’, and in this track, the fear of change.
Track 5 - ‘Planet New Year’
“But time has hardly been unkind underneath this gentle light
And by the time that midnight strikes this time…”
This song invokes the feeling of having woken to a new day where everything is fresh and things feel somehow clearer. It is about the realisation that you’ve wasted time, but that the tangent taken has been worth its hardships.
Lampooning the New Year’s resolution, Blasko invents a world where time is not linear, and doesn’t move on until the right decision is taken.
For once, the character, who has usually been so decisive in her life, relishes the meandering path she has followed towards a defining moment: “It’s a delightful curse to have wasted so much time”.
Track 6 - ‘Always On This Line’
“At first sight, first light the world seems like a miracle
But try to hold it in your hands – and watch it get away, oh the ugliness of fate…”
Finally, in the chorus of Track 6, Sarah reveals the subject of her meditations by name: fate.
Essentially, “What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have” is about fatalism; about giving a face to the forces that control the path through your existence, regardless of your beliefs about their sentience.
Track 7 - ‘Amazing Things’
“Now you’re cursing the night, you’re watching the seconds die”
The protagonist in ‘Amazing Things’ is someone who seeks out what they want in life, only to cower away when they find it. A lover who cannot commit to love; or a dreamer who cannot bring their dreams to life. Sarah speaks to them: “This love you fear is such a precious thing”.
Track 8 - ‘The Woman By The Well’
“Seconds and hours pass slowly - I move them all by myself”
This song is about solitude - about the realisations someone has about themselves when no one else is present. It is about the desire to be alone, but also of the sadness that loneliness brings. And of the conflicting desires for a lover to at once fulfil our needs, yet also offer infinite space for us to remain individuals.
Track 9 - ‘Hammer’
“Nothing moved means nothing found
But there’s a sadness in the sound as the walls crack and the scenes change so fast”
This song is about the frustration of trying to make sense of things by tearing them apart and starting again. The song deals with the loss that can occur with such radical destruction – the loss of simplicity and beauty.
Track 10 - ‘Queen Of Apology’
“Truth, truth, hand it down, and we’ll swallow it whole
To avoid the taste, but what’s inside we’ll never know”
In a further allusion to Coleridge’s Rime, Blasko begins this unrelenting number with the exclamation, “Truth, truth, everywhere, but not a drop to drink”.
Commenting on the subjective nature of truth - but more so on the way that pride influences our perceptions and the versions of events we choose to accept – this track reflects on a relationship that has been forever preserved in a wound unhealed.
As time passes, acrimony replaces all former feelings. Eventually, all that remains is guilt, yet neither party will absolve it, for fear of condemning whatever remains of a once-held trust into oblivion.
Track 11 - ‘Showstopper’
“Oh, it’s a trial, and a fight, hear me cry: ‘It’s yours & it’s mine!’,
‘Oh the fight!,’ ‘It’s yours, it’s mine – yours and mine, yours and mine!’”
The conclusion to Blasko’s sermon lies in the climax of the penultimate track, a rousing gospel call-and-response where Sarah begs us, the choir, to repeat, “It’s yours, and it’s mine. It’s ours, it’s ours”.
Sarah invites us to lay claim to the struggle itself, to set our sights upon the voyage, not upon the destination. Herein lies the crucial theme of the album.
Track 12 - ‘I Could Never Belong To You’
“Oh, the times I’ve thought this whole thing though
Lived whole lifetimes in disguise from you”
On the album’s final track, stripping her accompaniment back to a piano and a string quintet, Sarah speaks for the final time about loss in a subjective reality.
For Sarah, time is not linear; time can bring you back to the same point. Time is fluid, much like the sea.
"What The Sea Wants The Sea Will Have" by Sarah Blasko - release date: 09/11/07..