2014 CD REVIEW
SUPERHEROES (SOCIAL FAMILY)
AMBER HONOURS PATERNAL LIFE SAVER
Here's the story of a 1970s life saver/ the ballad of a man with a suntan/ smoking cigarettes after saving lives/ 3 children with Miss Maroubra Beach . - The Lifesaver - Amber Lawrence.
Amber Lawrence didn't have to look far for the anchor of her fourth album - her late father.
The Sydney singer, now 36, wrote The Lifesaver about her dad who died of leukaemia at 52 in September 2008.
It's a true love story of how Amber's sire saved lives and created three others after meeting her surf queen mum.
Lawrence reached back further when her dad inspired Always Kiss Me Goodnight and The Good Men on second album When It All Comes Down .
Although the singer recorded and wrote most of her new songs in Nashville she again draws on her homeland for much of her material.
It worked when she eulogised a Vietnam veteran who saved her life as a toddler on the song Man Across The Street on her previous album 3 and The Mile about 16-year-old jockey Sam McRae died in a racing accident for her debut 2007 album.
This time she illustrates her CD artwork with an historic photo of her parents in their surfing era at Maroubra beach after her dad was orphaned at 10 and moved to the beach at 15.
It's fitting that she didn't employ a co-writer to tell her evocative tale.
But she returns to the same beachside scene of the rhyme in fragrance fuelled Honeysuckle, one of two tunes penned with Suzy Connolly.
Lawrence also uses storm metaphor in the fateful tale for two fiery musical lovers with Byron Bay tattoos in Cyclone Tracy , penned with Colin Buchanan.
The singer, who swapped careers as a Qantas accountant six years ago to become an indie artist, has retained her independence.
I've pretty much funded every album myself, revealed the University of NSW graduate who trimmed her 21 new songs back to 13 for the album.
I've been lucky that I've been able to make the money back and do another one. Suddenly, when you think you're going back to your day job, a cheque pops into the bank you didn't know was coming.
Her accountancy background is a bonus.
That doesn't mean I don't spend it really easily, but I always know where it is or why it's not there. I keep a tight rein on the money because music is a tight business. Sometimes I think I'd like to focus more on writing songs and pay other people to do those things, but you can't if you want it to be your full-time business. You have to do a lot of things yourself and controlling the finances is one of them.
AMBER LIGHT TURNS TO RED ON RADIO
I used to be afraid to speak/ to say what I believed/ I was my own kryptonite/ my own worst enemy/ but then somehow I found the power locked inside of me. - Superhero - Amber Lawrence-Clive Young.
I went to Nashville last year and wrote the songs and then just did nothing with them for six months. I was touring and doing lots of shows, so I didn't want to rush the recording.
I was down in a bit of a hole. The album is all of that. There comes a time in life where we fail for a bit and you have to work out a way to get out of that. I think I've done that. I think I'm OK now.
Live To Tell The Tale , penned with Matt Scullion, seems to be an autobiographical reflection of the dreams of a desk jockey damsel who chances her vocals on a career change.
And The Love Record , featuring Nanci Griffith's guitarist Thomas Jutz as her collaborator enables her to name and shame a jezebel heart wrecker and home wrecker - well, she doesn't actually reveal the name either of the cheaters.
That's the role of the twitters - not songbirds.
But the singer explores romantic resurrection with a flourish in Feel Like Flying and I Will Love You - the only cover here with prolific Port Douglas raised and latter day Nashville singer-songwriter as one of the tunesmiths - and 25 Words Or Less .
The positive love song These 4 Walls - co-written with James Farrell and produced by Simon Johnson - is a stark contrast to the Shotgun Willie Nelson classic 4 Walls .
The bitter-sweet alcohol tinged Because You're Worth It - the other co-write with Connolly - is a fitting finale for a disc that finds Fell adding banjo, ukulele, keyboards and backing vocals with a little help from Connolly and Travis Collins.