Seven years since Robert Forster’s last album The Evangelist (2008). Seven years since one of Australia’s most respected singer-songwriters released what was widely regarded as his best solo album, and one that more than lived up to the many high points of his band The Go-Betweens. Seven years for fans and critics alike to ask, what the hell was he doing?
Quite a lot, as it turns out. Record producer for acclaimed albums by Brisbane bands The John Steel Singers and Halfway. An extended stint as a music critic for the Australian periodical The Monthly that was so well received, a collection of his writings was published as The Ten Rules Of Rock And Roll in 2009‚Äîand was reissued, revised and updated, in 2011. Curator and compiler of G Stands For Go-Betweens. Volume 1‚Äîthe first of three lavish boxset compilations charting the career of one of Australia‚Äôs most exciting and idiosyncratic bands, of which he was founding member, singer and songwriter.
Still…seven years. Long time, musically speaking. Time for writing songs, time for gathering musicians, time spent preparing for what was to be the next chapter of his musical life‚Äîa refreshed creative direction that took shape as the new album Songs To Play. Ten very different Robert Forster songs recorded on a mountain top half-an-hour from his Brisbane home, in an analogue studio, with a troop of young musicians: talented multi-intrumentalists Scott Bromley and Luke McDonald (from The John Steel Singers), Matt Piele (drummer from his touring band), and violinist and singer Karin Baumler.
The resulting album is really nothing like he’s ever done before, although it retains many of the qualities we know from his songwriting: highly melodic, with incisive, witty lyrics attuned to real people and real lives. The surprise will be the spirit of the record, its sense of adventure and fun‚Äîespecially after the meditative reflections of The Evangelist (recorded a year after the death of The Go-Betweens co-founder Grant McLennan).
Seven years has brought a bolder, wilder approach to sound, and a set of truly inspiring compositions. Pop songs. Five minute epics. A bossa nova tune. Singer-songwriter classics. Add the more experimental and detailed production assistance of Bromley and McDonald, and no wonder‚Äîfrom the album’s opening lines on the super-charged Learn To Burn‚ÄîForster is bursting to get out and tell his story.
Seven years in the making. And worth every minute.
Halfway formed in 2000 in Brisbane. They have released 4 critically acclaimed albums:
In 2008, key writers John Busby and Chris Dale won the Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship (arguably Australia‚Äôs most prestigious songwriting award). They have played shows with You Am I, The Black Keys, J Mascis, Sloan, Band of Horses, Mark Olson & Garly Louris (Jayhawks) and scored festivals spots at the 2011 Big Day Out, and 2010 Gympie Muster.