Following a teaser trailer at the start of the month demonstrating his new blues rock sound, the lead single from Bernard Fanning’s new solo album, the follow-up to his 2005 debut Tea And Sympathy, has now been unveiled, along with more album details.

First revealing his plans at the tail-end of 2012 that a new studio album was in the works, the former frontman for Powderfinger has been keeping fans updated on his work in an LA’s Sunset Sound Studio through his official website.

Working with American producer Joe Chiccarelli, who has worked with fellow Aussie acts Boy & Bear and Augie March, Fanning had been talking up how his then-untitled new album was in sonic contrast to the acoustic stylings of Tea And Sympathy, and breakout singles like ‘Wish You Well’ and ‘Songbird’.

Now, along with the album art and tracklisting, fans can hear just what that new direction sounds like in the shape of ‘Battleships’ the lead single from the appropriately titled Departures. The new three-minute sound showcases a fuller band sound that’s closer to Fanning’s days with Powderfinger; stinging guitar solos, rollicking piano, horns, and multi-tracked vocals that flaunt the singer’s distinctive vocals (which recently earned him the title of one of Australia’s best singers in a peer-voted poll).

Speaking in December last year, the singer described the album as “mostly soulful rock… and a little more mongrel,” and now speaking to The Music Network,  Fanning elaborates on the sound of Departures and his own departure from his instinctual way of songwriting. “I made a conscious effort to step away from the way I had written songs in the past. I especially didn’t want to make another version of Tea And Sympathy.” – Bernard Fanning

“When I was writing this album I made a conscious effort to step away from the way I had written songs in the past. I especially didn’t want to make another version of Tea And Sympathy,” says Fanning.

“For me the most natural thing is to sit down with an acoustic guitar or at the piano and just get cracking,” he continues. “I figured that if I did that again with this record I would run the risk of getting stuck in dreamy singer/songwriter land and never make it out.”

Instead, Fanning sought to break his habits, “I wanted to give myself the chance to reset what I was capable of both for myself and for other people,” he says.

“So I taught myself a whole lot of new stuff (mostly drum programming and bass) and worked very studiously for long periods, refining and revising parts and putting the songs together in a totally different way.”

The completion of Departures comes after a turbulent time for Fanning since Powderfinger’s split in 2010, including the death of the singer’s father, relocating from Australia to America, and the birth of another son.

“My Dad died and then I had a son,” the vocalist succinctly told press last year. “All that stuff that happens, the big life scenarios, it was an intense year but great too and you’re gonna write about it.”

While the former voice of Powderfinger is keeping busy on the musical front, fellow bandmate and guitarist Ian Haug has been occupied with his own recording space, Airlock Studios, in his native Brisbane – conveniently located near the Eatons Hill Hotel, the live music venue where Haug was recently named Director of Live Entertainment as the venue’s new band booker.

Perhaps the Brisbane based venue would make a cosy jumping off point for the tour plans Fanning has been hinting at in the lead-up to the June release of his new album, telling Triple J presenters Tom Ballard and Alex Dyson on the breakfast show this morning that he was placing the “finishing touches” on plans for “the middle of the year.”

‘Battleships’ is available now through iTunes, or as a free download for pre-ordering Departures – available in CD, Vinyl, and a super deluxe edition that comes with a T-shirt, and (fitting with the album title) an overnight bag, sleep mask, and neck pillowDepartures is out June 7th and you can view the artwork and tracklisting below:

Departures Tracklisting:

  1. Tell Me How It Ends
  2. Limbo Stick
  3. Battleships
  4. Grow Around You
  5. Drake
  6. Call You Home
  7. Departures (Blue Toowong Skies)
  8. Zero Sum Game
  9. Here Comes The Sadist
  10. Inside Track

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine