Some of the most unforgettable music ever made has been born from just taking time to live life, to reflect on the past and then embrace the future with new found perspective. Sometimes The Stars, the eagerly anticipated third album from The Audreys, took shape exactly that way. It’s the sound of a band that’s been pushing boundaries since the beginning now doing so with boundless freedom, capturing ten of the best songs they’ve written yet with emotional honesty, a dash of sonic adventure and a few surprises ...
The remarkable success of The Audreys’ 2006 debut album Between Last Night And Us might have caught even the band themselves by surprise, but its follow-up, 2008’sWhen The Flood Comes, proved it was no fluke. Both albums won the ARIA Award for Best Blues And Roots Album for their respective years, striking a chord with critics and audiences alike right from the outset. And while both combined irresistible melody with candid emotion, When The Flood Comes was the result of a daunting, difficult recording process – an experience that the band’s core of Taasha Coates and Tristan Goodall were determined not to put themselves through again.
That meant it was time for change, and some much-needed time out. After a trip to LA to play a pair of sold-out shows, soaking up the heady atmosphere of cards, cars and tequila, Taasha headed off to backpack around India. A few months later, Taasha and Tristan set off on a tour as a duo, road-testing some of the songs that would eventually end up on the album. By this stage, they knew exactly what was needed - to take The Audreys back to their roots, the duo whose creative partnership had been the essence of the band since day one.
“It was a gradual process”, Taasha explains. “We’ve taken our time writing this record, and the guys had other projects to do, other interests. We felt really rushed writing the second record, so we really wanted to give ourselves a bit of time. The heart of the band’s always been Tristan and I, so I think it’s more honest, in a way, to bring it back to the two of us.”
Slowly, organically, the songs that would eventually make up Sometimes The Starsbegan to take shape. Writing and ultimately demo-ing the new songs as a duo opened up a world of possibilities. Strong, complete songs even in their acoustic form, for their studio incarnations the band once again enlisted producer Shane O’Mara, the working relationship stronger than ever on this, his third Audreys album. “On this record more than our last two,” Tristan explains, “we had a particularly close relationship with Shane. We were able to sit down with each song, the three of us, and spend a day talking about the song, playing it and kicking around ideas for what we could do to embellish it.”
And embellish they did – though not to excess. O’Mara’s atmospheric production lets the songs speak for themselves, allowing he and the band to take them in sometimes unexpected directions. Album opener Comfort Me lays a deeply personal song atop a bed of languid strings, while first single Troubles Somehow is perhaps the most musically euphoric song The Audreys have recorded to date. Live favourite Lonesome Valley is enhanced by Tim Rogers’ harmony vocals to close out side two beautifully (like the previous albums, Sometimes The Stars will be released on vinyl as well, a format the band is passionate about). Poorhouse features rollicking drumming from Michael Barker (who plays drums throughout the album) and a startling contribution from acclaimed jazz pianist Paul Grabowsky. Throughout the album, vocals were recorded in single takes, capturing the spontaneity of a live performance.
“With the liberated feeling we had when we went in to record came this kind of optimism,” explains Tristan. “A real joy about making music, a sense of fun,” adds Taasha. It’s been really creative. At the same time, I think it’s the most personal record we’ve ever done. It’s interesting – if you pair light music with dark lyrics, people often miss it. We’ve very much done that with Troubles Somehow; the lyric is really sad, but the music’s upbeat. We were playing a little with that idea.” Certainly the combination of candour, exploration and joy that’s such an intrinsic part of The Audreys has never been so clearly captured on record.