That once great, virtually vanished brand we encounter so seldom these days, ‘Made In Australia’, applies to nothing more adherently than Sara Storer. Needing no jingoistic logo or contrived ‘act,’ her ‘brand’ comes forcefully from within as naturally as breathing, and speaks volumes in Silos.
I caught up with Sara on an evening she and her brood of four boys were home alone, with husband Dave in China on business and the two French ‘au pairs’ gone out on a rare evening off.
Sara, that is a lot to take in – that those little bushrangers of yours have not one but two French au pairs as minders and will grow up speaking fluent French – I love it!
“Bushrangers! I don’t think they’ve been called that before! But it does suit them!” she laughs, and is quick to point out there is only one au pair, and the other is her friend who works full time elsewhere…but let’s not let the facts muddy a great story!
Sara is possessed of a sense of dry humour akin to an Arab’s sandshoe.
“The boys are all so different! It is astonishing how different they are. They all have very distinct little personalities. Luckily they are all friends sixty percent of the time, but the other forty they fight like cats and dogs.
“There’s much change afoot this year as Harry goes to school now, Tommy started preschool and Bill …well, Bill is doing daycare two days – he is a Ned Kelly in the making! Adorable as he is, he’s just a little farm bloke, but he wants to be down the paddock, in the shed, on the machinery or with the animals, he just hates indoors. And I can’t follow him around outside all day – I have to do things! He’d be fine running his own show; pretending he’s fixing something or mooning about. None of the others are that interested in cows or farming stuff – but he’s just mad about it from daylight to dark. He won’t let anyone else open a gate, or let the dogs off. He assigns himself these roles and takes them very seriously. He knows all the “paddock” talk too including the colourful variety!”
So let’s talk about Silos. Sara, I have coined a label for this album – “Bliss Guilt” – every single aspect of this album – the sounds, the mood and the lyric is so imbued with satisfaction and fulfilment that I just gloss over it when you sing, “I get so down sometimes” and think ‘Oh she’s not serious, she’ll sort it out with a cuppa.’
More laughs. “Sometimes for one moment of the day I might be a bit blue for any number of normal reasons; finances, kids, or something that didn’t go right but for me – but when I am crotchety I really don’t like it – I’m not a person who can be unhappy happily! Stuff that wrecks my day really cheeses me off!”
“Dave and I moved back from Darwin to Albury and it lifted a massive weight off our shoulders. The relief at not being 3,000ks away from family, and we have a bit of dirt with a few cows just out of town, with lots of space for the boys and a shed and stuff. We are so contented. You can look around and say ‘why don’t we have this, this and that’, but to stop thinking what we don’t have and look at all the wonderful blessings we do have is such a beautiful thing. That’s what the song ‘Dandelions’ is about. The verses are a progression from deciding to leave Darwin to getting here, and the happiness of having made the right decision, having no regrets and seeing everything coming up roses.”
“In the photo shoot we did for the new album yesterday, I wanted to sit in the middle of a whole lot of real down-homey cluttered stuff – just me holding a cuppa in the midst of the chaos -singing and smiling and looking deliriously happy!!
“Truly that’s pretty much how it is. I’m enjoying this stage of my life so much, and the pressure is off! I’m not gonna tidy up because someone is coming over (well, except you always do that mad dash don’t you? God knows what is lying about that the kids brought in!”)
A dyed in the wool Mallee Girl down to her bootstraps, with these songs Sara’s return to the dirt for inspiration is obvious, with weather and farming metaphors sprinkled throughout the stories like perennial seasoning.
Production was once again the province of Matt Fell with the who’s-who of Australian recording royalty. The first thing I loved was the absence of prevalent drums and a myriad range of percussive sounds and accents adding a distinctive ambience. Matt earns thirteen instrument credits from bass to bouzouki but my firm favourite is the melodeon, which gives the work a beautiful multi-layered plush sound somewhere between an accordion and a Hammond Organ (how I described it when inquiring what it was?). Glen Hannah also claims a bouzouki credit (might we have missed a closet ‘Duelling Bouzoukis’?) along with several guitar parts, Shane Nicholson, Josh Schuberth, Luke Moller, Dan Dugmore, Sam Hawksley, and Clare O’Meara. Clare co-wrote and sings a duet with Sara on the very different track, ‘Mascara and Song.’ Even the word ‘mascara’ is jarring in the landscape of this record so rustically populated by earthy and grounded images of farmers and generations of family with no frills or ‘flash.’
“I think it’s kinda cool that its different – Clare loves Celtic and I love Celtic and it throws you a bit off track and its really raw.”
…continued in Country Update Issue 80