With 30+ releases to date under the banner so far, Liberation Music announces the return of the label’s ‘Acoustic’ series with our first longplayer for 2016: Acoustica, 12 stunning, intimate recordings by ARIA winner and multi-platinum singer/songwriter Alex Lloyd.
Showcasing iconic songs over the past decade by Australia’s most respected songsmiths – Mark Seymour, Diesel, The Church, Ian Moss, Stephen Cummings, and more – Liberation is thrilled to present Lloyd as you’ve never heard him before: intimate, stripped back, and breathing new life into much-loved classics… plus a brand new surprise.
“It was certainly something I’d thought of doing before,” Lloyd says of the Acoustica recording, the singer’s seventh full-length release. With four ARIAs already under his belt, Lloyd was intrigued with the concept of revisiting his older material. Expect to hear radio hits ‘Amazing’, ‘Coming Home’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Black The Sun’ and more, his extensive catalogue getting a brand new lease of life.
“This project came along at a perfect time for me,” says Lloyd down the line from Sydney, where he and his family returned to back in 2012, after living abroad in London’s Queens Park for several years. “Doing these recordings really helped create a spark in me – it’s been great to re-address these songs, and I’m really happy how it’s turned out.”
It was mid 2015, when Lloyd performed at charity event the Emerald Ball, that the seed for Acoustica was first sown, after Liberation witnessed his set and approached the singer. Lloyd had spent his recent months working on projects such as a TV campaign collaboration with filmmakers Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah) and Brendan Fletcher (Mad Bastards), creating tools to promote tourism to Indigenous landmarks. Lloyd of course is no stranger to soundtracks – he previously earned accolades for his work with the Pigram Brothers. Their Mad Bastards soundtrack landed three nominations for the 2011 APRA Awards, including Best Original Song Composed for the Screen (‘Won’t Look Back’), Best Soundtrack Album and Feature Film Score of the Year, plus an ARIA nom for Best Original Film Soundtrack. With Liberation behind him, in late November he got to work on Acoustica.
Determined to meet a Christmas deadline, Lloyd gave himself just three weeks to record Acoustica’s 12 tracks, recording and mixing in his studio on Pro Tools. “I’m glad I had a deadline,” he laughs, “as I’m the type of person who, unless I get a record mastered, will just keep on adding… and then this wouldn’t be an acoustic record anymore!” The LP’s undeniable intimacy comes from Lloyd recording his vocals and guitar live, then enlisting friends to add gentle embellishments: piano, percussion, string arrangements. “It’s not meant to be a big budget record,” he insists of the end product, “but that has kept it real – and that’s what is really good about this. It’s got a bit of grit.”
triple j fans will be instantly singing along to the oldest song on Acoustica: ‘Black The Sun’, the lead track from Lloyd’s critically acclaimed, platinum-selling solo debut, which the station’s listeners voted their #1 album of 1999. (Side note: the song also saw Lloyd win ARIAs for ‘Best New Artist’ that year, and ‘Best Male’ in 2000.)
“There’s likely heaps of people who’ve never heard that song before,” Lloyd guesses. “In the beginning of my career I was deliberately under-singing, trying to find a style. Now I hope this version shows how I can use the best of all styles, whether singing big or quietly.”
Re-imagining his most famous number was always going to be Acoustica’s biggest challenge. The second single from 2001’s Watching Angels Mend, ‘Amazing’ is Lloyd’s most defining classic – a #1 in triple j’s Hottest 100 of 2001, his first Top 40 breakthrough, #1 in New Zealand and the most played song on Australian radio in 2002.
Fifteen years since ‘Amazing’ was released, Lloyd still can’t believe the impact it’s had on his career. “At the time I didn’t think it would be a hit; I thought ‘Green’ might be bigger!” he laughs. (That song is also here.) “I really struggled with ‘Amazing’ at first, feeling like everything I was doing sounded too close to the original. I did something like 15 versions, it took ages to get right… but now, with this result, it really sounds like it has a new life.”
‘Coming Home’ has a whole new energy thanks to Lloyd’s determination to add an “‘Eleanor Rigby’-style” string arrangement: “I wanted to still keep the song’s integrity, but pay ode to all the little riffs and original trinkets it has.” He’s particular pleased with the breakdown in ‘Green’ (“my son really loves this version!”), plus the energy of ‘Brand New Day’, a track lifted from his self-titled fourth “American sounding” album, which was originally recorded with US producer Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi) in Seattle. “I thought maybe I’d made the wrong decision with the production,” he confesses, “that maybe it was a bit too rock, too clean? So stepping back to this song felt wonderful.
It’s not all originals, however. On Acoustica Lloyd offers a cover loved by millions: Leonard Cohen’s iconic ‘Hallelujah’. “It’s such a crowd favourite every time I play acoustically,” says Lloyd. “It’s a controversial decision to do it, but once I handed the track into Liberation I felt like there was a real sense of ‘me’ within the song – my personality is stamped on it. I play this song live so often I felt justified putting it on the record.”
Lloyd describes these new versions are poignant reminders, as much the end of a chapter as a new beginning. “I feel my voice is better than ever now – maybe that’s the wrong word, perhaps more confident. It feels good to be able to express myself like this with this album.” Determined to give these songs all the love and attention they received the first time around, Acoustica is a warm reminder of why Alex Lloyd is one of Australia’s best exports.
“These are my songs, songs I love and I’ve reinterpreted,” he states. “I’ve put as much energy and heart into them as I can. All you can hope for is that people enjoy them as well.”