Sarah Jackson | April 2, 2021
After a year of lockdowns and uncertainty (plus, the possibility of more to come) I was delighted to discover the soothing sounds of Lovebirds, the sixth studio album by singer, songwriter, and composer Nick Batterham.
This skilled musician (and VCA graduate) worked through the COVID malaise to create an intensely delicate and melodic body of work.
The album’s strength lies in its instrumental prowess and rich orchestration. Batterham and his talented collaborators combine piano, strings, guitar, percussions, woodwind and brass with sincere and haunting lyrics, resulting in a striking interplay of shadow and light. The pieces are in some ways minimalist but always vivid.
Radio Fodder interviewed Nick about his music and Lovebirds.
RF: For those unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe the music that you typically create?
NH: My singer-songwriter output tends to be on the melancholic side, but hopeful and joyous at times.
RF: Who would you consider to be your greatest musical influences and why?
NH: I’m a bit of a magpie, with my ears always open for words and ideas. I often see the world through the window of whatever I’m working on. My song writing borrows heavily from the words and thoughts of those around me. Phrases off TV can take on great power when put in a different context. Melodies come from anywhere and everywhere, from classical music to birdsong. Over the years I’ve admired many other songwriters, but Townes Van Zandt remains my number one. He expresses his troubled soul so visually. His word pictures are sublime, something to aspire to as a writer.
RF: The title track Lovebirds is a beautiful and sincere piece. Can you describe what, or who was the inspiration for this piece?
NH: Thank you! I like the idea that love is like a song we sing together with someone. We have far more in common than we do difference. Despite our differences we can still sing together. There is something greater than the parts that occurs in both love and song. A sympathetic ear and generous heart. When it’s good, it creates a collective vision, a fantasyland we aspire to make real.
RF: The Bright Side of Me is a stand-out track with its prominent drum and guitar. What inspired you to change up the style for this piece.
NH: It’s an older song, I wanted to stay true to the way it was written. Although I’m writing mostly on piano now, the guitar feels most natural to me. Noisy guitar is my foundational sound and still so much fun to play. There’s a physicality to it that feeds into the recorded song. An urgency that energizes everything around it. That urgency befits the struggle within this song.
RF: What was the inspiration behind Broken Tambourine the closing track of the album?
NH: It has several meanings for me. The idea we play the same broken song over and over again. We know and repeat our own problems. In order to allow someone to join our song, to love us, we need to first love ourselves. That all begins with clearly hearing one’s own song.
RF: You collaborated with a lot of great and up and coming local talent in the creation of Lovebirds, if you could choose anyone in the world (dead or alive) who would you most like to work with on future projects?
NH: I was very fortunate to assemble such an amazingly talented ensemble. I enjoy collaborating, I’d love to write with Townes or Elliott Smith, but I fear my contribution would get pushed to the back by such bright stars. I guess we will never know.
RF: How did the COVID 19 lockdown and subsequent disruptions impact on the production of Lovebirds?
NH: The album was mostly recorded before Covid times. I had many months of overdubs and mixing on my own. I lost interest for a while too. It was a long wait to record some finishing touches, the orchestral elements, but I’m glad I waited. It has been a bit nerve-wracking releasing a record into a world of reduced capacity and with the spectre of future lockdowns, but it is important that creativity goes on. We still need music!
RF: What is your favourite song from the new album, and why?
NH: Songs are personal, it’s impossible to pick a favourite. Some have more emotional connection than others, but I know that changes over time. The song ‘Follow The River’ is the emotional centre of the album and carries the most weight for me. It’s cobbled together from mantras on how to live, how to survive loss and live on without attachment. Like anyone, I can’t always follow my own psychobabble.
RF: What’s next for you?
NH: Hopefully no more lockdowns, playing live as much as possible to support the album and begin collecting ideas for the next one.
Lovebirds is a genuine listening pleasure. The album is set for release through Cheersquad Records and Tapes on 23rd April 2021. The album is available for pre-order now.