Listed as one of Tone Deaf’s most anticipated records for the month of May, the prolific (The Bamboos/ Dorsal Fins/ GL et al.) Ella Thompson is gearing up to release her fist solo full length titled Janus.
The album’s title Janus is named after god of beginnings and transitions, (and thereby of gates, doors, doorways strangely enough) the album is an assertive foray into the rocky road of maturation.
Produced by Aria award-nominee John Castle (East, Washington, Gossling) Janus promises to be impressive body of solo work, an exciting turn of events for an artist who has made a reputation as a stellar collaborator.
Listening to the futuristic glossy pop of the album’s single ‘I Go Over’ it’s clear why Thompson is becoming a local underground pop heavyweight.
In celebration of this exciting new release, and subsequent new chapter in the songwriter’s career we decided to get a little retrospective and chat to Thompson about the records that have shaped her. Check out her picks below, and don’t forget Janus is set for release this Friday May 22 through HUB via Caroline.
Renee Geyer – Blues License
1979, RCA Records/ Mushroom
“I somehow found this album when I was about 12 years and it changed everything!
This album introduced me to blues music, discovering people like Muddy Waters, BB King, Donny Hathaway and Etta James. I figured out what a 12 bar blues was and thrashed it with every band through high school. Renée was the connection between this amazing music from America that technically I had not much to do with, I thought if this woman is allowed to love and sing this music maybe I can too.
Brandy – Full Moon
2002, Atlantic Records
“When it came out in 2002 I would have been 12. I was on holiday with my brother and dad in Bali scouring through the fake dvds and cds at the market and came across this.
Full Moon was the album where Brandy really loosened up and got funky. She worked with producer Dark Child on this and the grooves are so deep.
I always loved RnB and Brandy was one of the only females with a pretty low voice and heavy tone which I loved. This album has such an incredible flow from start to finish and was quite left of centre from the super commercial RnB of the time.”
Arthur Russell – World Of Echo
1986, Upside/ Rough Trade Records
“[I discovered this] only at the start of this year!
It sounds so solitary. He was in his own world and created a space which doesn’t seem affected by what people expected from him. The world was drawn to Arthur, he wasn’t seeking attention.
The music is really meditative and minimal while having so much going on. I like the immediacy of the sound. It doesn’t sound like he is aiming for perfection.”
Etta James – At Last
1961, Argo/ MCA/ Chess
“[I discovered this] As an early teen.”
Etta sings heartache like no one else! The songs she sung were so well written, like standards written especially for her. At Last was originally written for a musical in 1941 but Etta takes it to the street in 1960.
The dreamlike orchestral arrangements on this album are such an amazing contrast to her rough and powerful voice. Trust In Me gets me every time.”
Rance Allen Group – A Soul Experience
“[I discovered this] At 15. Renée Geyer told me Rance Allen was her favourite singer so I did as I was told and listened straight away.
Rance sings soul with the conviction of gospel music. This album is a great example of how soul music loosened up and got funky in the 70’s.
He was part of the STAX record label and appears in the movie Wattstax, showing his falsetto is second to none!”
Aretha Franklin – Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
1967, Atlantic, Rhino
” I can’t remember [discovering this album] I feel like it’s always been there.
It’s hard to pick one Aretha album but this was a turning point in Aretha’s style when she recorded at the Muscle Shoals studio. So many amazing songs.
Whenever I feel a bit disconnected with music I put on Aretha and she makes me feel better.”
Janus is out now through HUB via Caroline.
Ella will be performing as part of Bigsound 2015. Line up and info at www.qmusic.com.au/bigsound