SARAH Blasko on London:
“There’s always a million things going on and that’s always inspiring to anybody who wants to do something creative; so much music, so much art,” she says.
“It’s very rich, and diverse culturally… Just living in a much bigger city than Sydney, just pushed me outside my comfort zone.”
The beautiful Australian singer recalls seeing Ennio Morricone at the Royal Albert Hall, “as one of the best shows I’ve ever been to.”
The concert included many of the famous Italian composer’s film classics, as well as some of his more contemporary work. The size of the orchestra and choir which Morricone was conducting, Sarah describes as “crazy”.
“Just seeing this orchestra was inspiring to me and reminded me that was something I wanted to do in my career, was work with an orchestra…I remember that night, thinking you’ve really got to do this.”
So she did.
Sarah’s most recent album, I Awake, features the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra. She toured the album earlier in the year, performing in concert halls in Australia with a 40 piece orchestra. And in April, she performed with a nine piece string section, as well as her band at the Barbican Centre in London.
“This time I’m just coming back as a three piece,” she says.
“It’s really just going to be piano, organ, guitar and voice, so it’s just simple… very stripped back. There’s no drums or bass.”
This Sunday at Islington Assembly Hall, Sarah Blasko will be performing songs from I Awake, and her earlier albums — including As Day Follows Night — the way they sounded before there was an orchestra.
“It’s really just going back to the heart of the songs,” Sarah tells Australian Times.
“I want people to understand the songs perhaps in a different way in this set up…It’s really putting a microscope on the lyrics and the raw emotion behind the songs.”
Sunday’s concert will coincide with the Australian Aria Awards, where Sarah is nominated for Best Female Artist and Best Adult Contemporary Album for I Awake.
Her upcoming performance at Islington Assembly Hall may not have the grandeur or spectacle of an orchestra, but it does allow the audience to connect with Sarah on a more personal level.
“It’s easier to have more of a conversation with people in the audience when it is stripped right back. The songs become much more obvious in their narrative…I like that about it. It’s very honest and conversational.”
As a recording artist, Sarah’s pure voice and soulful lyrics convey an emotional intensity and vulnerability. Layered with instrumentals, choirs, and drums, the sounds are complex and bold. Haunting, romantic, and shadowy — the diversity of sentiments this music inspires is a credit to Sarah as a singer, songwriter, composer and artist.
“I try to write about what I know, or what I feel,” she says.
“From the last two records, my music has been very much acoustic driven… I suppose I’ve rejected technology to a certain degree, and really been interested in exploring acoustic instruments.”
But it is performing her songs live for an audience, which Sarah finds most satisfying.
“I think I feel happiest when I’m touring. I find it a release of some kind. And I suppose for me, I started performing live before I ever did any kind of recording…It’s sort of the ultimate thing for me, the live aspect of it, and I try and keep my album recording as close to live as I can,” she says.
Sarah has recently announced the Heavenly Sounds tour, which will take place in January. Similar to her upcoming concert at Islington Assembly Hall, Heavenly Sounds will see Sarah performing more intimate shows at churches and cathedrals around Australia.
“I think there is something that this small show does that larger shows can’t achieve. I think it’s interesting how each way of performing has its own strength. When something is stripped back I think people focus more on the lyrics and the intention behind the song.”
Sarah’s Heavenly Sounds tour will see her deliver her last performances celebrating the album I Awake. Following this she is stepping out of her comfort zone again, as she starts working on a new album.
“I’m making a bit of start at the moment to writing new things…I’d like to make an album that’s pretty different to the last two. Because I saw them as being very linked to each other. So I think it’s time to do something quite different to that.”
Sarah Blasko is performing at Islington Assembly Hall on Sunday 1 December 2013 at 7pm. Click here to buy tickets.
Listen to Sarah Blasko’s latest single ‘Fool’ here: