Seeking Love in Bellingen
THREE friends standing around a piano singing a few tunes creates excitement ... when those three friends are among the most talented female songwriters in Australia.
Seeker Lover Keeper is the group formed by Sarah Blasko, Holly Throsby and Sally Seltman. Together, they recorded a self-titled album in New York in two intense weeks last year, which was released this month.
Blasko spoke to the Guide about their musical joint project, just days before starting rehearsals for their national tour, which ends at Brisbane’s Splendour in the Grass.
"It kind of all came together and feels quite effortless," Blasko said. "I think it’s been received a whole lot better than we thought it would be. It was not meant to be high art, just a relaxed, fun project that we worked on together.
"We decided on an album that had a lot of harmonies, was pretty folky and natural and live-recorded album. The only way it was going to work was if we literally stood around a piano singing together," she said.
Previously, Blasko and Throsby have sung guest spots in each other’s shows and on a Throsby recording but all have been friends a long time. Blasko and Throsby attended the same high school, although they were not friends at the time.
Hyped as Australia’s female supergroup, the trio has recorded relatively similar melodic pop tunes with thoughtful lyrics and breathtaking vocals in their solo careers.
Each ‘felt a deep sense of responsibility to each other’s songs’ as the lead singer was often not the songwriter and they shared singing on each track. It was produced by Victor Van Vugt, who had previously worked with Blasko.
Music critics have found their collaborative effort exciting – particularly for the darker side introduced to their repertoire.
"Some songs are heartbreakingly brilliant ... the greatest thing about this little supergroup is that their voices are all so distinctive and different to each other ... a contrast which adds a fantastic element of originality to their songs," wrote Tanya Ali for the AU Review.
"There’s a feeling of abandonment and instinct throughout – from the rollicking Going to Sleep to the usually controlled Blasko presiding over the loose Light All My Lights ... the ladies bring out the best in each other," said Cameron Adams for Adelaide Now.
"One of the first songs I heard was Sally’s Rest Your Head on My Shoulder and I immediately loved that song," Sarah Blasko said.
"That gave me a feeling of how I pictured the album – really, beautiful songs about sharing the burden of life and I always had that song in mind."
However, each of the songs brought to the album evolved unexpectedly in the recording studio.
"Some of the songs turned out differently than I expected and turned on paths that amazed and surprised me."
Contrasting the collaborative project to her solo career, she said it was "quite refreshing when you haven’t got any ideas, but you’ve got these two other people who might be inspired at the time".
"Holly and I always comment on Sally being classically trained and see her as a musical leader. Holly has energy about her songs that I’ve always loved."
While all have solo commitments following the Seeker Lover Keeper tour, they say they intend to work together again in the future.
Aside from Splendour in the Grass, all the venues chosen for Seeker Lover Keeper are intimate.
"It’s just going to be pretty much capturing the album and pretty relaxed.
"We just want it to be really special for the people that come."
In all their interviews, they have refused to be drawn on what elements of their solo careers will make it to the stage.
"It’s a little bit of a secret, but we will do more than just the album."
"I have a feeling that Seeker Lover Keeper will be absolutely entrancing live," said music critic Tanya Ali.
Experience Seeker Lover Keeper, with New Zealander Tiny Ruins in support, at an all ages gig at Bellingen Memorial Hall on Saturday, July 16 at 7.30pm. Tickets at Roots Records, Bellingen and Park Beach Music or online at www.seekerloverkeeper.com.