Prolific singer-songwriter Emma Russack released her fifth album ‘Winter Blues’ in 2019.
The 10-track album is Emma’s most personal to date. Russack explains, “thematically, the songs deal with love, loss and confusion in the context of a fairly confusing, complex world. The songs pose many questions but refuse to give answers, and that’s the way I like it. That is not to say that the songs aren’t hopeful; they are – but it is my hope that the listener can engage with the songs freely, answering (or not answering) the questions for themselves in relation to their own lives and experiences”.
The four-and-a-half-minute single title track is the album’s centrepiece. Remarkably subtle and incredibly beautiful, the song floats in a sombre key, intermittently dotted by Russack’s contemplations, “blame it on the winter blues”.
Russack gave us a taste of the album in the single “What Is Love” late in 2018. Recorded for the short film ‘An Athlete Wrestling a Python’, Emma writes about the simplicities of love, asking “What Is Love?”. During the song she asks, “is it borrowing a t-shirt?” OR is it “reading over shoulders?”. It is many things! In addition to the song’s deeply personal lyrical content, it also sees the piano take the lead – as it does too on the title track. The piano is also showcased on the album’s quieter moments: “Like the Wind”, “Horses” and the album’s stunning finale “Never Before”.
A few songs into ‘Winter Blues’ and you are struck by its beauty and left aching for more. Is it the content, the songs, or the subject matter that you are longing for? Whatever it is, the album feels a little different. The songs were captured in a different way this time. Russack explains, “for a year, Liam Halliwell, Dylan Young and myself had been going into Phaedra Studios intermittently to record songs that I had written. We would usually record two songs per session and then mix on the same day. All of the songs were recorded live to tape and always in one take. There were no rehearsals and Liam and Dylan would have to learn the songs in the minutes prior to recording them. It was a fast and exciting process. Once again, John Lee engineered, mixed and mastered the album.”
Russack has recorded several albums with Lachlan Denton. The albums showcase a masterful melding of each of the artists’ (and vocalists’) signature sounds and songwriting style. They also captured an incredible friendship that has had its ups and downs over the past few years, yet has only grown stronger.