Felix Riebl is set to release his eagerly-anticipated second solo album Paper Doors tomorrow, and we’ve got an exclusive first listen.
Having already become a household name due to his highly-celebrated work as the frontman for The Cat Empire, Felix Riebel has stepped out to again make an album full of the emotion, variety, and wonder that his work has become known for.
To shed a bit more light on this gorgeous work, Felix has given us a track-by-track rundown, which you’ll find below with dates for his Paper Doors tour that all kicks off next week.
Paper Doors is out tomorrow through My Shore Productions, and will available on iTunes and streaming platforms.
“I want to dive into its moment like a seal that swims beneath the storm”
I feel most alive when I’m calm, but I only really get to that feeling when all around me is noise, movement, colour, chaos. I think this song is partly about that.
“Maybe one day then we won’t look back, maybe one day before the heart attack”
This one started as a regular ballad, then I got stuck, and in frustration banged my left hand on the low octaves. Something sparked, then the hook followed. It’s the lucky shock. Later, Katy Steele’s completely distinct voice brought a special edge to the performance.
“And in all our difference, we’re just snowflakes turning to snow”
There were moments on this album, and this track is one of them, where the air changed, and I found myself in a space where the atmosphere of the song seemed far more important than its meaning. It’s only a subtle difference, but I often find songs like this more interesting in the long run.
IN YOUR ARMS
“You call me liar then say lie beside me always”
There’s a lot of wordplay in this song. I love it when it happens like that. It’s one of the reasons why Brel or Gainsbourg can never really be successfully translated. Anyway, this one is a midnight ballad; heartfelt, but tongue in cheek as well. Martha Wainwright’s duet brings a breath of fresh air to the performance, I think she shares some of that whim or humour in her songwriting. I was happy when she said she’d sing on it with me.
OUT WHERE YOU ARE
“Going deeper than before, going deeper than December”
This was the last song we recorded. I hand wrote the chart in the lunch break, the same 3 chords over and over. I hadn’t finished the lyrics, but sang it live anyway, so the second verse is more or less gibberish. It made us laugh, so we kept it. The song has a real charm for me, it’s swampy and lighthearted, and you can hear the musicians cooking.
ALL I CAN SAY
“So send me away tonight, I don’t want to hear, answers to problems that bring me closer to you my dear”
We wanted to make the choruses leap out on this album and make the dynamics hyper-pronounced. On this one, we kept the verses swampy and close, and brought in a big gospel, wall-of-sound for the choruses, I think we made ‘Give Peace a Chance’ our reference there. There’s also a Barry solo in the middle played by Melbourne’s Paul Williamson, reminiscent of the outro of ‘Walk on the Wild Side,’ which was one of the first song’s I fell in love with when I was a kid.
“You wind me like a tape to the reel”
This is by far the rockiest moment on the album. For me it evokes a crossroads between analogue and digital, a space I’ve had to navigate in my music career so far. It’s a changing werewolf, but it’s hard not to get tangled in the physicality of the past.
“Into the jaws of a crocodile’s dream”
I wrote this song after travelling in Timor Leste. I went there to visit Arte Morris in Dili, and found myself surprised, edgy, uplifted, estranged. It’s a wild place. The song is psychedelic and political; it evokes an internal landscape and an actual one. The words as sounds grate up against each other and keep coming, it’s dreamy and dark, bluesy and cinematic.
“Elvis’ evil eyes, shining endlessly, no that ain’t love, no man that’s ecstasy”
My girlfriend thinks this one is emotionally manipulative. I suppose a songwriter might consider this a success. I wanted to turn love or whatever on its head with ‘Ecstasy’. There are violent images, and there are peaceful ones, and some are just strange. The music just rolls by, calm as ever.
“Some find a lover or friend, some find a ghost is more comforting than a firm shoulder on which to depend…”
This is a sad song in a major key. It features an 808, a vocal and keys performance, and a beautiful string arrangement by Roscoe James Irwin. Ross and I have been working together for years, in bands, on films, fireworks, albums, and his work on Paper Doors is sublime.
We recorded, mixed, and mastered all the songs in just over 10 days, which required the arrangements and the communication to be killer. As usual, he delivered, often working late the night before, then arriving fresh as a daisy for the session next day.
Felix Riebl Paper Doors Tour
Wednesday, 7th September 2016
The Producers Bar, Adelaide, SA
Thursday, 8th September 2016
Lizotte’s, Lambton, NSW
Friday, 9th September 2016
Newtown Social Club, Newtown, NSW
Saturday, 10th September 2016
Black Bear Lodge, Fortitude Valley, QLD
Sunday, 11th September 2016
Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC