2014 CD REVIEW
HEART OF SORROW (SONY)
HEARTACHES BY THE NUMBER
“Can I suggest if you break my heart/ get it over before these feelings start sinking in/ before I begin getting used to you.” - Used To You - Lyn Bowtell.
Old Habits is a multi-purpose paean to a ravaged romance sunk by addiction on many levels.
“I wanted to tackle some subjects I may not have had the guts to tackle before,” Bowtell, now 37, revealed in an interview with Gareth Hipwell in Country Update magazine.
“Going through a divorce, living with alcoholism - living with someone who's going through those songs is not easy and you, yourself, become addicted to or part of that behaviour. Old Habits was written from that perspective. We all have these addictions. It can be alcohol, Freddo Frogs , bad relationships. It's about learning to understand yourself.”
Bowtell accepted a marriage proposal from fiancée Duncan Toombs on stage at the 2000 New Year's Eve festival at Pittsworth near Toowoomba.
With supreme irony the NSW Central Coast film-maker directed her new video.
Salient sequencing ensures that melancholia is followed by the joyous reggae bounce of Happy, replete with whimsy and an invite to take a chance on this poppy purveyor.
BREAKING HEART OF SORROW
“If I won't weep let me cry/ and if I won't sleep let me lie/ and if I don't break let me bend/ if I seem fake it's pretend/ I won't go without a fight/ I'm not going to beg and borrow/ all my life driven by fear to follow/ but I'm alright dragging this heart of sorrow.” - Heart Of Sorrow - Lyn Bowtell-Damon Morton.
It segues into the smoky ballad Keep Me whose melancholia is signalled by its entrée - “I can't afford to but all the things you are worthy of/ I hold the moon and stars, surely you could see together we could rule the world.”
Best Friend reflects the relationship between those partners in rhyme.
“We have been working towards the record for 18 months,” Bowtell explained.
“I started writing it on tour, we were performing it then straight away to audiences. And as for the artwork and the video clip it was an idea that I'd had for some time - the tree and sitting underneath it because it's kind of my happy place, really. I love to sit underneath a tree and write songs and just to be. I don't know what it is - there's something about it that I find really special and really calming.”
She also expands extremities of romance in rollicking Raging Love and lachrymose lava flowing through the angst of Foolish Lovers .
But there's light at the end of that tumultuous tunnel when Flood singer Kevin Bennett exudes forgiveness in his role in the duet on the bluesy How Long ?
“I feel that I've got to a point in my life musically and emotionally, I guess you could say, where I'm ready to own what I do and I love what I do and it's just such a blessing to be able to put in song how I feel and what I'm going through at the time that I'm writing it,” Bowtell says of her journey.
“When I came to write this album I really wanted to come at it from a different perspective. I wanted it to be even more honest than I've been before and approach subjects a little bit more than before in a braver way. I didn't want to be scared to go there if you know what I mean. So that's the perspective I came at it and I think it has created something special.”
FAMILY SEEDS FAMILY TREE
“I remember most of all, the weeping willow tree/ you pushed, I sang/ the swing it swung/ my voice sang young and free.” - The Willow Tree - Lyn Bowtell.
The singer reaches back to her childhood for joy and then paternal pain from losing her father in The Willow Tree .
“My dad passed away from cancer nine years ago and I tried to write him a song for a long time,” Bowtell confessed.
“Many years ago someone asked ‘what's your first full memory?” When I really thought about it, it was being pushed on the tyre swing by my father, underneath our willow tree. It was such a beautiful day, the warmth of the sun, bare feet on grass, blue sky and that sense of urgency when you start to drop down and his hand would be there.”
But it was also maternal memories.
"Both my parents were musical,” she added.
“My Dad played accordion with his father and brother for the 'old time dances' - I have some lovely memories of CWA perfectly cut sandwiches, staying up til 2am while the people danced continuously to the music - Pride of Erin's, Waltzes and old halls with hard wooden seats I would eventually fall asleep on - after a dance on my father's feet. My Dad also sang, played piano, organ and drums. Mum sings and can play piano accordion, auto-harp and bag-pipes. I grew up listening to them both play music around the house.”
The Bowtell baton has now been passed to Morton.
“Well with regards to the writing, I kept it pretty close to home,” Bowtell revealed.
“I wrote all the songs myself, bar five that I co-wrote with my partner, Damon, and I was really a bit insular in that way. I didn't want to share it and I really wanted it to be something from me. And writing with Damon worked for me as well because he has a way of getting the very best out of me and I guess the most authentic approach from me. So in that way it was different because in the past I think I've watered things down a little.”
The singer also credits producer Nicholson, not just his studio guidance and playing 15 instruments, but for giving her renewed confidence on an album that ends with the regret tinged but assertive I Won't Let You .
That includes her playing acoustic guitar, ukulele, omnichord and percussion.
“Working with Shane, he's really straight up and I think he's a really honest person,” Bowtell reflects.
“If he thinks it's a great song, he will tell you. If he doesn't think it's great, he will tell you. So there was definitely that quality control. I felt I could really trust him because he's so good at what he does already and I think that was different to what I'd done before. It was just a really clean process. We were really honest with each other and we could just be real and make it all about the music and for me that was what I really wanted to do, essentially. I wanted the songs to be at the forefront of everything I did.”
It's a long journey from when she won the Queensland Champion Of Champions award in 1995 and cut debut album Headed South with her band Southern Steel in 1996.
She scored regional radio airplay and won the 1997 Tamworth Starmaker Quest and released two singles The One You Love and Searching For Jane written by Lyn and Margie Mason.
Bowtell won the Female Vocal section of 1998 Victorian Country Music Awards and launched second album Hearts In The Country for Canberra label ACMEC with live performances on Nu Country FM at its Beer Can Hill studio in summer of 2000.
Lynn debuted with Karen O'Shea and Kate Ballantyne as Bella at 15 th Bunyip country festival in 2004.
She was also 2013 APRA Song Of The Year Finalist for Beautiful Liar and two-time Golden Guitarist and MO Award winner.