“At this point in my life I like to take risks. I want to do something that people don’t expect” Vanessa Amorosi confesses in the early moments of our chat about her fifth studio album Back To Love.
With various highs and lows being captured throughout her long career in the music industry, she’s reflecting on this release as a pure victory in her reclaim of creativity and honesty.
“There are so many personal truths on the record. ‘Better Off’ and the title track ‘Back To Love’ are great examples of the raw emotions behind the big production, but when you look at the record as a whole, I am very vulnerable on all of these songs. They’re like raw journal entries” she confesses.
It’s been ten years since she released her fourth studio album Hazardous and with the anniversary coinciding with the release of Back To Love she admits that between those two releases she’s learnt to speak honestly through her music.
“On Hazardous I was still tip-toeing around some of the subject matters. For example ‘Baby’s On Ice’ was quite metaphorical and had the listener guessing what I exactly meant by those lyrics. Where as on this record I just say ‘it’s personal, you’re spreading lies about me’. It’s straight to the point. You don’t have to guess. So I just think I’ve created more of an honest record now” Amorosi cites.
The honest subject matter in question is a deep exploration of her past, as she finally comes to turns with things that have happened in her life.
“My husband and my child make me very happy and I am very happy right now, but I have lived a lot of crazy moments and they’ve now become things to write about. When I’m going through those hard situations I don’t share much and I specifically don’t release those songs until I’ve overcome it. So a lot of these songs are about experiences in the past, and not so much the present”.
Along with the deeper dive into her vulnerability and lyrical transparency, Amorosi has re-discovered her love for pop music in a bolder way and isn’t afraid to get a little experimental and show different sides to her artistry. Which is why she decided to lead her comeback with ‘Heavy Lies The Head’ instead of going with a more pop directed track.
“I ended up going with ‘Heavy Lies The Head’ because it was the riskiest move. Everybody was telling me that it wasn’t traditional enough and that I should go with something less confronting, but that’s what made me want to go with that song. It is vocally confronting and I love that”.
“I don’t just do pop music and I want people to know that. But I do love pop music because it’s such a challenge to write because you do want to be predictable in a sense but you also don’t want to be corny. There’s always a really fine line you have to master”.
“I spent a good twelve months writing the songs on the record and really honing the essence of the pop genre. Obviously I tend to go all over the place, so it can be pop-rock, it can be a ballad, it can even be a dance one. Like for example, with ‘Run’, that melody to me seemed so old school that when we started putting music to it the only thing I felt complimented it was to go more electro-dance and take the organic instruments out of it” she explains.
Last time we sat down to have an interview, Amorosi confessed that pop music was never the direction she intended, or initially even wanted to head towards. She was a country girl with a rock band who fell into the pop world thanks to the trends that artists like Britney Spears were setting at the time. But she soon fell in love with the storytelling, and discovered how she could push the boundaries and stay true to herself. So Back To Love feels like a full circle moment for her as she has no strings tieing her down and yet she’s still creatively immersed herself in the pop world because of her genuine respect of the art of it.
“The thing that I think has always attracted me back to pop music is just how hard it is to write. You have to have something great to say while not being too left centred. I think I will always have a respect for it and will always be drawn to it because it’s the hardest for me to write. With other genres, I can be a little more experimental. I can go off the rails a little bit on a rock song, and with gospel music I can do something that is completely crazy. But with pop music it really is down to a great lyric and a great melody”.
One of the records greatest pop moments is the nostalgic feeling ‘Gimme Your Love’ that entices the listener with it’s groovy baseline and simplistic but catchy hook. The idea for the song came after Amorosi had watched a TV advert and she was immediately hit with a melody that she quickly recorded as a voice memo.
A few years had passed and she was in the studio with Trevor Muzzy and Aleena Gibson when she decided to re-visit that initial idea she captured. From re-working the concept to thickening out the bridge and playing with the production structure, the end of the song didn’t come till a little later thanks to a little experimentation.
“The final part of the song finally came together about five months later as I wanted to add some different vocal arrangements and take some inspiration from what I was doing in my gospel work. It was a real labour of love with that song as little bits and pieces slotted into place over time”.
“I particularly love the fact that the chorus drops down to a bass melody because it’s always the cautious side of us that questions if we can get away with it because it’s not traditional. However It feels good and it makes you happy which is the way it should make you feel. But it’s always a challenge to not do those big choruses because I love them” she laughs.
In contrast, the soulfully driven ballad ‘The Truth Will Set You Free’ hears her highlighting the vast diversity this record has to offer. And it will probably surprise listeners that the same team behind ‘Gimme Your Love’ is the same team behind this emotionally driven moment.
“That lyric, ‘the truth will set you free’ says everything, and that’s what created the song. It’s just apart of life I suppose. If you’re spending your live holding something back, you are bound to have enough and just let it out. And once it’s all out in the open it’s honestly so refreshing” she reflects.
After reacquainting herself with listeners through Back To Love, Amorosi is ready to step back into the spotlight and take audiences on a candid journey of discovery. 2020 will see her competing in Eurovision’s Australia Decides competition, and she’s excitingly preparing a performance that combines all of the artistic influences she’s explored.
“I feel like I’ve had a good twenty years of training to deliver something that could really be a great moment” she confesses.
“Watching Kate Miller Heidke last year was what sparked the whole thing for me. It was just so incredibly beautiful and everything was so thought out as it’s about bringing together all of the elements of art. It starts at the song you write and then transcends into the performance, what you’re wearing, the lighting and the journey you can take everyone on in that three minutes”.
And that’s where the heart behind this whole new personal journey has been drawn from. She wants to surprise people and she wants to have people enthralled in all of the elements that capture the story she’s trying to tell. And she has a lot of different sides of her artistry that she wants to share with Back To Love being the beginning of that.
“When it comes to making art, I do so much creating but now my mission over the next five years is to get it all out, in all of it’s different forms and get people to understand what it is that I create”.
Back To Love is out now on all streaming services