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 legendary 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 and was reissued, revised and updated in 2011. Curator and compiler of G Stands For Go-Betweens. Volume 1 the first of three lavish boxset compilations charting the career of an Australian music icon, 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 a 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.
'I had originally envisaged the gap between my last album and my new one as five years,' Robert says. 'I wanted time to pass, for there to be a cut-off. I knew what happened next would be the start of something new.'
'Five years became seven.'
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 especially 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 from the album's opening lines on the super-charged Learn To Burn Forster is bursting to get out and tell his story.
Time's a sequence and you wait for changes. Problem is you know I've got no patience. I've got no desire to be the fourth person in line.
Seven years in the making. And worth every minute.
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|Robert Forster Grant & I In Concert & Conversation With Pete Paphides (21 Mar 2023)|
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