For Melbourne folk-popsters Tinpan Orange, it was time to shake things up a bit. The result is their lushest album yet, as Michael Smith discovers from Emily Lubitz.
ife for singer, songwriter and frontwoman of Melbourne folk-pop Tinpan Orange, Emily Lubitz is now defined quite clearly as pre and post-baby. Louie, her son by husband, songwriter, keyboards player and producer Harry James Angus, whose other band is The Cat Empire, now nearly a year old, rules, as all babies do. Not that he's evident in Tinpan Orange's latest album, Over The Sun, even if a lot of the songs were written post-baby.
“It's a collection of songs that started about two years ago,” Lubitz begins, “and I think that it was more reflecting on remembering, and maybe, the fact that I had become a little more domesticated and thinking about the part of me that isn't domesticated, that whatever, the dreamer in all of us. And I think we all have our domesticated selves and our, you know, incredible, worth of a screenplay or at least worthy of a folk song selves,” she giggles. “So I think the album is mostly looking back on maybe a simpler time and with warmth.”
There's certainly no regret evident in these songs, yet they're not mere rose-tinted nostalgia either. The songs that ponder loss are accepting, those that might admit feelings of inadequacy but hey, they're trying their hardest as, for instance, the character at the heart of Supergirl is.
“That one was inspired by a short story by [Israeli writer] Edgar Keret – he's a great short story writer. I find a lot of inspiration from short stories or Charles Bukowski or something, and, yeah, I sort of got that and then I researched all superhero stuff, googling and wondering what do they have other than capes? I actually made up tazer gloves but I thought that'd be pretty awesome [laughs]. But I love Supergirl, I love her dedication to whoever she's in love with.”
Sonically, this fourth album from the now five-piece is far more lush, awash with strings and more accepting of having a traditional rhythm section, something the original trio of Lubitz, guitarist brother Jesse and multi-instrumentalist Alex Burkoy took pride in not having for a few years.
“The sounds were a lot to do with our producer Steven Schram. Harry also had a lot to do with the arranging and obviously Alex, who plays the violin and strings, but a lot of the sounds were steered by Steven, who is a very fearless producer. He pulled sounds that I just wouldn't have expected but I loved it. He would chop songs – he'd just put the song in a blender and, like, watch it go – and we knew he was like that and we wanted that.
“After our last record (2009's The Bottom Of The Lake) that we did, just the four of us at home, you know, very kind of private, personal, fun little bit of recording, we wanted fresh ideas and we wanted someone with strong ideas, so we very consciously chose him. He'd say, 'Note's too long, chop it in half, probably don't need that bit,' and then, 'Oh no, we need a middle-eight – write it.' So Foolish Child, I wrote a lot of that in the studio as we were recording it. I was writing lyrics to Over The Sun as the guys were playing through the chords and Steven was pulling the sounds in the control room, and it was great – I love working on the fly like that. Usually, I've always come into the studio very prepared, the songs don't change too much in their form, but I'm at a stage where I'm really open to other people having some fun – as long as I trust them, I trust their aesthetic and they're going to do right by my songs, I find it really exciting.”