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Graeme Connors Releases His Homage To The Great Australian Singer - Songwriters
Kindred Spirit Out Now

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Graeme Connors - Kindred SpiritAfter 35 years and 16 albums filled almost exclusively with his own work, multi-award winning Queensland singer-songwriter Graeme Connors has chosen to break the mould and release an album entirely devoted to the works of others. The album, Kindred Spirit, comprises 12 stunning reinterpretations of songs originally written by 16 Australian singer-songwriters. The songs, chosen through extensive consultation with Graeme’s friend rock historian Glenn A. Baker, range from the well-known to the obscure. They were penned by a wide variety of writers – from household names to new comers.

Selecting the songs took more than 12 months, and for Graeme their provenance didn’t matter. They simply had to fill some very important criteria. “They just had to be great songs,” he says. “Not hit songs, necessarily, but great songs. They had to be songs that have a sense of Australianness, without being too overt about it – and they had to speak to me - their subject matter had to resonate personally.”

Diligent research by Graeme, Glenn and several of their musical friends, unearthed some absolute beauties, including rare gems co-written by Paul Kelly, Brian Cadd and Broderick Smith. John J Francis’s 1970s classic Play Mumma Play receives a reworking, as does Shane Howard’s Flesh and Blood, Glenn Cardier’s She Flew Away, and Richard Clapton’s Capricorn Dancer. Kindred Spirit also contains fresh discoveries in the form of under-appreciated songs from boutique songwriters such as Paul Greene, Brian Baker, Sam Hawksley, and master craftsman like Kevin Johnson – who had a huge hit in the 70s with his signature Rock’n’Roll (I Gave You All The Best Years Of My Life).

One song, The Love I Leave Behind, was written especially for the project by country music powerhouse team Allan Caswell and Drew McAlister. Released recently as an album taster, the song quickly topped the Hot 100 Country Chart and reached number two on the CMR chart. It was a sweet achievement for Graeme, demonstrating that, a quarter century after his breakthrough hit A Little Further North smashed the Aussie charts, his instincts when it comes to great songs are still well and truly intact.

“There’s a prevailing attitude in the music industry today that a singer must be involved in the writing of every song he or she performs,” he says. “I don’t think that’s particularly healthy. In golden periods of the music industry, singers – even singer-songwriters – regularly performed other people’s songs. It was about doing the best version, the definitive version of a song, regardless of who wrote it. Some people have a gift for songwriting and some have a gift for interpretation. Some do both equally well though naturally there is often an ebb and flow between the two. Think Harry Nilsson and Frank Sinatra! One was an amazing singer songwriter whose greatest success came with others songs, and the other never wrote a song in his life, but,  both of them were incredible interpreters.

Kindred Spirit finds Graeme teaming up again with talented producer Matt Fell at Sydney’s Love Hz studio. Matt produced Graeme's previous two albums – Still Walking (2010) and Speed Of Life (2011) – and the pair have developed a deep and trusting creative partnership, despite being, as Graeme observes “one to two generations apart”. Joining Graeme and Matt in the studio was a distinguished cast of performers, many of whom featured on the past two albums. They included Josh Schuberth (drums), Tim Wedde (keyboards), Bill Risby (piano), Rod McCormack (guitar, banjo), Michael Rose (pedal steel), and Suzy Connolly and Darren Percival on backing vocals.

The album was recorded over a three month period in sporadic two week blocks. In between sessions, Graeme was either on the road performing, or back home in the North Queensland town of Mackay – where he helps out with the family business. “My life at home is very busy,” he laughs. “We have a very successful family restaurant and catering business. One of our sons is the chef and creative force behind the restaurant, my wife Lyn is the business manager, and, well, I take care of the alcohol. I’m kind of an honorary sommelier. I used to regard going into the studio or on the road as work – now it’s more like a holiday!” 

Kindred Spirit is the whole package. The album features artwork by Stephanie Tsai and was designed by Glen Hannah. It includes an eight page insert containing an educative and entertaining essay by Glenn A. Baker, in which the historian not only summarises Graeme’s career to date but also provides fascinating detail on the songwriters.

Kindred Spirit is out now through WJO.

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