“Think about your home. Think about what’s in your heart and at home. Write about that” … simple, yet affecting words from an inspiring artist which award-winning artist Amber Lawrence carried throughout the creation of Superheroes, her fourth, and arguably, most personal full length release.
The wisdom belongs to Troy Cassar-Daley and came during a shared conversation between the two about song writing. It resonated with Amber and greatly impacted on the lyrical and thematic approach to the album’s 13 tracks.
”There is a huge honesty in this album,” says Amber.
Much has changed since the ‘city girl’ and University of New South Wales graduate, threw in her well-paid accountancy job with Qantas, and set out for a life on the road as a professional musician. Her approach to the craft has been extremely constant throughout … hard work and a heavy touring schedule, with the aim of winning over a legion of fans, one at a time if necessary.
Releasing her debut in 2007, she says it’s taken her thousands of shows across the country to really find herself. It’s a fact she cites as crucial to having been able to produce an album which contains her finest work thus far – as a writer, performer and artist.
Superheroes was produced by award-winner Matt Fell. Each of the tracks is given its own space, free to flow musically where it may. No two tracks were written or produced in identical fashion, resulting in an exciting mix of tones and moods, with Amber’s voice serving as the constant. In many ways, it is the closest studio capture of Amber’s stage self.
The Superheroes story begins in late 2012, while Amber was touring heavily in support of her third release, ”3”. It dawned on her that gathering material for the follow-up release may not be such an easy task. Like many country singers she had convinced herself that she’d already explored the ups and downs of her life in song and had little left to draw from for the next project.
Of course this was not the case. Recalling events of recent years, including a relationship breakdown, moving home, dealing with the fringes of depression, healing and finding happiness again, she realised she still had plenty of stories to share.
”As they say, what doesn’t break you, only makes you stronger, wiser, or a songwriter,” Amber joked.
With a heavy bag of ideas Amber headed to Nashville. She returned three weeks later with 21 inspiring new songs.
”I headed to Nashville for my first time last year and co-wrote two songs every day for three weeks,” she said. ”The process put me under great pressure to be the best songwriter I possibly could be. Each session I found myself digging deeper as a writer, and as a woman, to really write songs that I know will connect with my fans.”
”As a person I felt I had failed, but I got up and kept going. I overcame sadness, fear and anxiety and I am happy again … all of this is in the album. It’s all about finding inner strength and being your own ‘superhero’.”
Of the new tracks – and taking a nod from the Cassar-Daley’s inspiring words – the song The Lifesaver, serves as a touching tribute to Amber’s late father, a surf-lifesaver, who’s life was changed dramatically and forever by a ”terrible stroke of luck” when he was 40.
The track Superhero is equally connected to Amber’s personal life, detailing the ability to call on one’s own strength … to stand up for yourself and be proud of achieving that which you never thought possible.
Many of the songs touch on Amber’s home life. These Four Walls is a warm and welcoming tale highlighting the fact that sometimes the only answer is to return to the place where it all began, back to the four walls you know so well, to allow the healing to begin.
The delightful Honeysuckle is another reminiscent journey, back to when Amber was 17, celebrating her school holidays at Maroubra Beach.
Showing off her vulnerable side, Amber details the criminal side of love on The Love Record.
”Have I met some boys in my time who’s name should be on the love record? This is a: ‘no forgiveness’, ‘how could you do that’, ‘I no longer love you’, kind of song.”
Fans of Amber’s will not be surprised to find that there is a great deal of light to be found on the new album. Amber’s love of having a good time is well expressed through the extremely flirty and rootsy Let’s Take It Somewhere, the oh so sassy 25 Words Or Less and the fun Little Lazy Little Crazy.
The only track not written or co-written by Amber, I Will Love You, was an essential inclusion. Penned by #1 US Country hit makers and Australian natives, Phil Barton and Kylie Sackley, with Lori McKenna, Amber describes the song as ”a super happy love song” and one she simply had to record after first hearing its demo.
Superheroes is the album that Amber has always wanted to make. Her story. Her sound. Her performance. Her way.