Kate Ceberano, Steve Kilbey and Sean Sennett have announced January 31, 2020 as the release date for their upcoming album, The Dangerous Age. It features twelve original songs including their first single ‘Monument City Lights, 1973’, ‘My Restless Heart’ and new track, ‘All Tied Up’. The cover portrait for The Dangerous Age was shot by Justine Walpole who is best known for her work with Prince.
The trio have also dropped a brand new single, a further taste of the album, entitled ‘All Tied Up’. A sublime mix of acoustic guitars, a quintessential Australian narrative and soaring vocals, the song is somehow contemporary while recalling the golden age of late-seventies Australian songwriting.
Whereas ‘Monument City Lights, 1973’ announced its arrival with shimmering electric guitars and all the mood of mid-70’s David Bowie, ‘All Tied Up’ is an altogether different beast. Kate Ceberano sings lead, while Kilbey and Sennett offer counterpoint backing vocal parts.
“When I listen to ‘All Tied Up’ now,” begins Kate Ceberano, “I can’t help feel as though someone else wrote and sang this song … it’s so different to any other song I’ve ever sung. I wrote from within the words, I was writing the music and the melody to create an atmosphere of surf, empty space and unfinished business. It’s like the sound of the suburbs where I grew up. Pregnant with subtext.…”
‘All Tied Up’ is the song that brought the trio together. Kate Ceberano and Sean Sennett had long been toying with making an album that captured the spirit of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin with an antipodean back drop. As the pair began work, Sennett and Steve Kilbey met at the Brisbane Writers Festival and struck up a friendship. Over the ensuing months, the gents would discuss songs and songwriting at length.
As Sean was finishing his I Left My Heart In Highgate Hill record, he felt the need to have another voice for one set of lyrics. As the pair traded ideas for what was to become ‘All Tied Up’, Kilbey discussed his previous work with the Go-Betweens’ Grant McLennan and their Jack Frost collaboration.
“I told Sean I could write Grant McLennan-esque lyrics at will,” explains Kilbey. “I felt Grant helped me write a few things for myself. When Sean gave me ‘All Tied Up’, I started writing “Grant” lyrics for this Grant-esque song … I didn’t realise it was for Kate.”
“I’d been sending Kate my lyrics for some time,” continues Sean, “and was knocked out by Kate’s way with a melody and her songwriting gifts. I decided that rather than use the lyrics for ‘All Tied Up’ on my record, I would send it to Kate. I purposefully didn’t tell her that Steve was involved. I didn’t want Steve’s input to colour her natural decisions. The strangest thing was, they’d never met. I think we were about three or four songs deep before I even told her of Steve’s involvement”.
A pattern was set in motion. Kate would receive lyrics from her interstate pen-pals, and she would set about putting their prose to her music. The Dangerous Age is full of sonic surprises for listeners, as it was for Steve and Sean. Apart from ‘My Restless Heart’, which Kate and Sean wrote in a room together, the lyrics were mailed in and would later reappear as fully formed songs, from Kate, in Kilbey and Sennett’s inbox.
Kate recorded the album with her co-producer Rod Bustos in Melbourne. Whereas Kate wrote at a furious pace, she and Bustos worked meticulously on the tracks over many months. Steve and Sean added their parts in Sydney and Brisbane. The album was mixed by Jason Millhouse in Brisbane.
“For The Dangerous Age, I was writing for two men,” continues Kate, “both long distance, both with different contexts for me…meaning ‘two worlds apart’, it was a fascinating construct from the get go. What did I want to say in music about their poetry and sketches? I wanted to express my admiration, my affection for their idiosyncratic verse and romance I guess. My composition, is a form of a love letter in song.”
“When I write lyrics without music,” continues Kilbey, “I have a dummy melody or song going through my head that I draw on. I write lyrics to that and create something that makes some sense. That technique is like a holding structure that helps a rocket take off. But the moment I heard what Kate had done with the lyrics, the dummy song is banished. The structure collapses and the rocket takes off.
“Everything Kate did with the lyrics surprised me no end. She made them her own in a wonderfully unfathomable way.”
Like ‘Monument City Lights, 1973’ and ‘All Tied Up’, The Dangerous Age is fuelled by songwriting ambition.
“For me,” says Sean Sennett, “working with Kate and Steve has been a thrill. Ceberano and Kilbey were big figures in the culture when I was growing up. Kate broke boundaries as a female performer in this country with I’m Talking and then as a solo artist. The first time I saw her on Countdown is burned in my memory. And it’s the same with Steve. A lifetime ago I remember sitting in a cinema as a teenager and they showed three film clips from the Church’s Blurred Crusade before the film started. To have sat with Kate in her studio jamming while we were writing ‘Not The Loving Kind’, or to be hitting lyric lines back and forth with Steve during the writing of ‘Monument City Lights, 1973’ was a fantastic experience for me.
‘THE DANGEROUS AGE’ ALBUM TRACKLISTING
1. All Tied Up
2. Monument City Lights, 1973
3. On Love
4. The Dangerous Age
5. Shot From Memory
6. My Restless Heart
7. Girl On The Highwire
8. So Long Ago
9. Not The Loving Kind
10. The Losing Game
11. Glacial Speed
12. Whatever Happened To Steven Valentine?
Pre-order new album ‘The Dangerous Age’ HERE
Download/stream ‘All Tied Up’ HERE
A highly acclaimed solo artist, Kate Ceberano first came into the collective consciousness as co-lead singer in funk-art-pop group, I’m Talking. She excelled as a songwriter penning the likes of ‘Brave’, ‘Champion’ and the #1 hit ‘Pash’ and is the first female to be inducted into the Australian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Steve Kilbey is in the ARIA Hall of Fame for his work with the Church (‘Almost With You’, ‘Under The Milky Way’, ‘Unguarded Moment’), and could also have been inducted for his prolific solo output. He is also a poet and painter.
Sean Sennett is best known for music as diverse as the radio hit ‘Lost & Found’ through to the garage rock of ‘You Broke My Heart At The Big Day Out’ (The Incredible Strand). He has previously written or recorded with the likes of David Bridie, Ross Wilson and Rob Hirst (Midnight Oil).