2019 CD FEATURE
FROZEN RABBIT (ABC)
FELICITY'S NEW HARMONY WITH DIVERSE WRITERS
“Driving state to state, we were questioning our fate/ looking for a town we'd never been, broken satellite/ said we might get there tonight/ it only led to fights while the sun was going down.” - New Harmony - Felicity Urquhart-Luke Webb.
“It's located in Indiana on the Wabash River about a three-hour drive from Nashville if the GPS is working. So, ours wasn't and it became a full day of driving and arguing.
“We eventually arrived at the end of the day and the river was in flood but we could still access the town, we checked into some available accommodation and my stress levels started to drop and the magic of this place began to take hold.
“It is hard to explain the feeling New Harmony brings; you have to go to feel it. In the middle of the night (I took some convincing) we decided to explore the town. We walked around the streets and churches amazed at the beauty, on this magical evening very unexpectedly Glen pulled a ring out of his pocket and proposed to me. I said yes but also wanted to know how long that ring had been there! I think we both have an affinity for this town and we ended up in the local paper the next day as the Aussies who just got engaged.”
That may seem a hard song to follow but Felicity did with uplifting first single Chain Of Joy, accompanied by a video.
It's one of two songs she wrote with Zanesville born singer-songwriter Kim Richey who first toured here in 2002 with Jim Lauderdale, Canadians Jason McCoy and Fred Eaglesmith and late Van Diemen's Land diva Audrey Auld.
“There are many crazy things happening in the world and when you have little faces looking to you for guidance, I think it's important to bring positivity and ideas they can understand,” Felicity explained.
“I want our daughters to know happiness and how to access that in their hearts when things aren't so grand. I was given the name Felicity that means happiness and we also chose to pass that thought on with naming our first-born Tia Joy. Joy is a family name.”
A complete contrast is the other Richey collaboration - Breaking Your Heart Again .
“Kim Richey and I have known each other for a number of years,” the singer recalled.
“We've written, recorded and played gigs together BK (before kids), she's one of my favourite artists and has a number of Australian friends. We wrote this about a mutual friend who was going through a rough patch.”
FROZEN RABBITS WITH NO MYXO
“Calling in all favours owed/ you didn't plan to lose your load/ a little watch wound up to tight/ a rabbit frozen in the light.” - Frozen Rabbit - Felicity Urquhart-Mark Seymour.
“You can't outrun bad-fortune but it doesn't stop us trying. Sometimes it can just be down to our own bad management. There are a couple of reasons why I choice this title, I'm happy to be frozen in this genre I live and breathe. This was also the first song we started working on in the studio and it sonically set the tone for the album. Lyrically there's a little self-reflecting going on too as my life is a constant juggle of multi-tasking, robbing from one part of time to give to another part when I'd like to freeze the hour hand some days to get it done.”
The singer, who celebrates her 43rd birthday on May 4, has not stopped the clock on her career that diversified after taking reins of ABC Radio staple Saturday Night Country from John Nutting.
She's also a presenter of Sydney Weekender on the Seven Network and enjoyed a much-appreciated hosting role on Nu Country TV.
“The trees were planted as a living memorial to Bingara's fallen in World Wars I and II. During the year, Bingara residents leave the oranges untouched, the harvest of the fruit is done by the local school children (the orange police) and happens in July. Respect, self-discipline and pride in this unique memorial has been carried on since the 1960's, from one generation to the next this memorial is special in my family as my mum took part in planting the original grove and passed on to my sister and I the significance of the trees. Any passing tourists who think they can help themselves are caught out. Shanley Del joins me on this song in the round. I learnt to sing in rounds at school which is more or less repeating a melody exactly the same sometimes in unison and some after a line or word has been sung it can go round and round indefinitely kind of like a chant and loved it so I wanted this song to have that and Mick Thomas totally jumped on-board the idea, he's a master.”
Four-time ARIA award winner Thomas, 59, has also been a teacher, publican, producer, playwright and prolific singer-songwriter-raconteur but that's another story.
Felicity drew on a different philosopher for Speck Of Dust written with Jeremy Edwards.
“Jeremy Edwards and I were writing via email and voice memos,” Felicity says of a popular new way of co-writing.
“One day he signed off referring to an idea that it might be a speck of dust, my eyes lit up, I loved that thought and suggested we head in that direction. It was back and forth over email mostly done late at night when household were asleep singing soft vocals into the phone.”
CARTWHEELS, BON BONS, HOPSCOTCH AND STRAWBERRY FOOTPRINTS
“Wound up tighter than a spool of thread/ can't recall the last time you said/ let's roll down and soak up the view/ the second hand's gonna run on time/ it's gonna meet you there at the finish line/ it's no race, you can't neat the pace/ you gotta make it count each day.” - Slow It Down - Felicity Urquhart-Karl Broadie.
The singer included Slow It Down - a song she wrote with late expat Scot Karl Broadie that features his vocals - and also credits him for Cartwheel And Climb that she penned with Rachel Webster.
“Find your own happy'- that's what my friend Karl Broadie use to say,” Felicity recalled.
“We sadly lost Karl to cancer in April 2016. I was at the songwriter's retreat in Nundle at The Dag Sheep Station and my co-writer this particular day was Rachel Webster. I had the perfect song ready to show her. It didn't have a title but it was inspired by Karl's words and Rachel was his partner, I wasn't sure if it was too personal for her but she opened up and we had a most special co-write, our hearts soared that day I'm very proud of this song. Eamon McLoughlin's fiddle and James Church's Dobro make this song for me.”
Slow It Down has an equally evocative source.
“Karl and I wrote Slow it Down about six years ago,” Felicity recalled.
“I remember the day we wrote the song I was a new mum and a tad exhausted and he advised as a friend that I didn't have to say yes to everything, he was right. I had included the song on an independent EP release in 2014. Karl was overseas when we recorded it and we always said if it goes on an album he would join me. Karl called into one day not long before he was diagnosed with cancer and sang an effortless pass with his typical conversational phrasing. We miss him.”
The singer credits family with many of her new songs including Hopscotch Sunday - penned with Brendan Nawrocki - and her solo composition Bon Bons.
But it was the Hannah family ancestors to whom she dedicates her album finale Strawberry Footprints that she wrote with Sara Buckley.
“The kids love visiting their grandparents, they have one lot in Tamworth (the Urquhart's) and the other in Gympie (the Hannah's),” the singer says of the song dedicated to Kay Hannah.
They run wild outdoors in the garden learning about the plants and trees and how important it is to have a garden. In Gympie the kids love picking Grandmas strawberries, we sadly lost Glen's mum a year ago just before Christmas and the kids say Grandma is now a rainbow and this song was written a week after she left us. The kids call it Grandma's song.”
OK - that's the song sources from the filly's mouth.
What about the music?
Well, with Hannah in the producer's chair and on guitar, banjo, mandotar and percussion and Felicity on banjo and acoustic guitar that's an accessible aural avenue to pleasure and little pain.
Especially when the cream on the gateau includes Kym Warner's mandolin, Gerry Hale fiddle, mandolin and mandocello, Webb on clawhammer banjo and engineers Jeff McCormack's bass guitar and Matt Fell adding harmonium to his bass.
On a level radio playing field this would be a chart-topper - it might still be.