communicates with words. I can’t. I use music.”
Daniel Johns has been ‘silent' for 8 years. His long awaited album is therefore
Over those years there’s
been no shortage of speculation about what the enigmatic singer/songwriter
has been doing. He removed himself from radar. Rumours were rife.
“Some of the rumours
were probably true”, Johns chuckles. Which ones? “Well,
anyone who wants to listen to the new songs will figure it out pretty
quick. It’s been an interesting ride.”
well known is that he put his band, Silverchair, on “indefinite
hiatus”. The childhood friends enjoyed five #1 albums which
sold over 6 million copies. They collected more ARIA Awards than
any artist in history and Daniel became the only person to be voted
APRA’s Songwriter Of The Year three separate times by his
peers. However, after struggling to create fresh work together Daniel
decided to step out on his own and try a completely fresh approach.
One listen to “Talk”
and it’s clear that’s exactly what he’s done.
Dollops of lush R’n’B are laced with cruisy electro
flavours and some dark glitchy bedroom production touches to create
a stylish take on modern soul. Gone are the big guitars and roaring
rock vocals; in their place, urban beats and aching falsetto croons.
Asked to explain this
Bowie-esque genre hopping and he eventually says, “music’s
the best way I know to express how I think and feel but over time
you don’t think and feel all the same things in the same ways
so the music has to change."
From teen grunge sensations,
through orchestral rock to baroque pop, Daniel Johns has
never been scared to completely reinvent himself. Even so, there
is a core thread that unites all of his work - a raw and unfiltered
emotional honesty. A direct line can be drawn from his best ‘spill-your-guts’
90’s tunes including “Israel’s Son" and “Ana’s
Song” through later Silverchair classics such as “The
Greatest View” and “Straight Lines” into new tracks
like “Too Many” and “Preach”. All talk of
dark days with a distinctly searing quality.
To borrow a line from
“Talk’s” lyrical cornerstone, “Preach”,
Daniel may "find it hard to breathe the truth” but he’s
never been afraid to sing it.
The eclectic mix of sounds and styles on this new album reflect
the array of collaborators that he brought on board. Lorde and Broods
producer/co-writer Joel Little brings his breezy
grooves to key tracks like “Cool On Fire”,
“Warm Hands" and the first song to be lifted off the
album, “Aerial Love”. Melbourne underground
duo Damn Moroda and influential writer/producer Louis School helped create tracks like “Goin’
On 16”, “We Are Golden”, “Too Many”
and the epic “New York” while Presets mainman (and co-writer
of “Straight Lines”) Julian Hamilton helped pen two of the album’s most immediate moments - “By
Your Side” and “Dissolve”.
But it is the songs created
with local hip hop icons Styalz and M-Phazes that push the envelope farthest. Deep grooves such as “Imagination”,
“Chained” and “Faithless” find Daniel stepping
into "futuristic R&B" territory.
Throw in a few quieter
moments like “Sleepwalker” and “Good Luck”
and you’re left with a sprawling, but still densely packed,
body of work. It’s highly musical and often highly confessional
as one would expect from Daniel Johns and yet,
at the same time, it’s still profoundly shocking; particularly
to those accustomed to the instant gratification norms of most 21st
Aptly enough the first
songs to be lifted from “Talk” have
already provoked mountains of online chatter. For every music lover
excited to hear radically different work by Daniel there are a couple
of others 'trolling' him for not endlessly churning out the same
sounds since his mid-teens.
felt like most people hate everything I do but thankfully there’s
always been an enthusiastic minority who seem to ‘get' it.
That’s fine with me. Anything that appeals to everyone tends
to suck anyway.”
is that when Silverchair released “frogstomp" most people
went out of the way to tell me how much it sucked. Then when we
made “Diorama” a few years later everyone started telling
me how I should go back to making “frogstomp”. I guess
now I’ll be told to go back and make “Diorama”
“That was part
of why I picked the album title too by the way. I don’t really
care what most people think. Let them talk."
DANIEL JOHNS | TALK | RELEASED MAY 22
PRE-ORDER MAY 1
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