Australian singer songwriter icon Josh Pyke has just released his brand new LP titled But For All These Shrinking Hearts.
With this album, as Josh explained to our writer “for the first time in [his] career, as much as it’s been almost ten years, I only just now am starting to feel established.” This certainty and confidence in his work is clearly displayed in this record.
As our writer explained the album is littered with “descriptive imagery in lyrics, another classic trait across all of Pyke’s work, is ever present throughout the record. Featuring collaborations with Dustin Tebbutt, Patrick James and Marcus Azon from Jinja Safari and production by John Castle who has worked with Megan Washington and Vance Joy, But For All These Shrinking Hearts is one of the top folk records to come out of 2015.” And we tend to agree. To celebrate its release, Josh has given us a track by track run down of the record. Check it out below.
Book Of Revelations
“This was one of the first tracks that I wrote for the new album, and it really set the tone for the rest of the material in a way.
It has a happy/sad vibe, based around the idea that if something bad is going to happen, you may as well take it on the chin, all at once, and then get on with whatever is left of your life.
The lyrics were initially inspired by my incorrect assumption that the name, Joshua, was one I shared with a character in the biblical text the Book of Revelations. However that turned out to be untrue, and the Book of Revelations turned out to be a text predicting the Apocalypse, which was not quite what I’d had in mind.
The process of following a thread of an inquiry down a rabbit hole made me reflect on my own behaviour or mind set at the time. I realised I’d been inadvertently pursuing destructive thought patterns, and writing the song helped me acknowledge that and start to change my habits.”
“I wrote this track with Marcus from Jinja Safari. The collaboration came about when I heard a track being played in my local cafe and liked its style. I asked the owner who it was and she told me it was Jinja Safari. I asked my manager, Gregg, if he could hook up a co-write, and it turned out that Gregg actually manages Jinja Safari too. Serendipity.
The lyrical concept of ‘Songlines’ comes from a book I read which explained the beautiful tradition of Indigenous Australians passing on knowledge and also ways of navigating vast landscapes, through songs.
It occurred to me that since I use songwriting as a way of processing my own thoughts, as well as songs being a type of musical diary for me, that I was creating Songlines for my own kids, to pass on whatever (possibly questionable) wisdom to them, so that they can navigate their way across the landscape of the life we’re building together.”
Late Night Driving
“This song started its life in a very different form. It was originally a pretty upbeat track, with drums and electric guitar. John Castle, who produced the record with me, really wanted to hear a stripped back version, and so we experimented and it just felt right. Roscoe James Irwin provided some amazing string arrangements, which took the track to another level.
The song is about acknowledging points in your life where there have been lines. Sometimes we cross those lines, and end up in a better place. Sometimes we cross them and set ourselves on paths that are confronting but ultimately gratifying.
Sometimes we see a line and back away, knowing that the life on the other side is one that would lead to short-term pleasure and long-term pain. Lines are everywhere on this album, which I didn’t realise when I was writing it. It seems that my subconscious was trying to come to terms with some things that my conscious mind was not fully aware of.”
There’s A Line
“I was fooling around with an iPad app, creating synth loops and experimenting with singing over the top. I was expecting that I’d eventually transpose it all over to a guitar and go from there. But there was something really fresh sounding about the vocal melody laid over the rhythmic synth pattern, so I built the track around that. The song carries on the happy/sad dynamic, playing with the idea of leaving someone with nothing but a line that will always connect them.
We shot the clip for this song amongst abandoned train lines, tunnels and carriages in Lithgow, regional NSW. The post apocalyptic feel of the clip was intended to avoid any clichéd boy/girl narratives, and on reflection links up with the apocalyptic inspiration behind track one.”
“I wrote this song with Dustin Tebbutt, who I’ve known for quite a few years through a mutual buddy. I gave him a call and we hung out in my studio and threw ideas at each other until a couple of them stuck. I love this song. I think it’s very evocative.
I find it hard to write meaningful lyrics on demand, so we did a rough demo of the guitar and a vocal melody where I just sang gibberish. I took that demo on tour with me to the UK and basically translated what the gibberish sounded like. It felt like I was pulling something from the ether that I’d wanted to say but hadn’t known how to.
A lot of the songs on this record that appear to be about romantic relationships are, I feel, about my relationship with my own creativity. That’s my most enduring and challenging relationship, and like any important partnership, one that needs constant nurturing and re-invention.”
“The image of a ‘Hollering Heart’ is one that I associate with following passion.
I like the image of a heart bursting at the seams with that feeling of joy, excitement, challenge and sometimes fear, that comes with pursuing something you’re passionate about.
The people that I find the most interesting and attractive are the ones that follow that path. They can be interested and passionate about something that I just don’t “get”, but it’s the pursuit of that passion, and the attitude that goes along with that ideal that massively appeals to me.”
Still Some Big Deal
“This is a song that has seen a few different variations. Playing it with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra was a challenge that brought new meaning to the song.
The song’s meaning is pretty self-explanatory. We traverse the landscape of our lives through peaks and troughs, and are always trying to find balance within that navigation. Sometimes we can and sometimes we can’t but if we continue to push, and to try, then frankly, that’s still some big deal.”
Be Your Boy
“It doesn’t matter how old you are. We all sometimes want to return to that simple, exhilarating, single-minded joy that comes along with the start of something.
You don’t have money but you spend it. You need to go to work in the morning, but you’re out till 4am. You watch the business people commuting daily and swear you won’t be one of them. You are drinking from the cup of life with great gulps, and you don’t want to slow down. It’s a beautiful time. It’s also often a confusing, confronting time, full of lines you know you will need to cross. You can’t stand still. No one can.
It’s ok; you can love your current life and still lament the loss of the former. It doesn’t make you disloyal to life, as you know it now. It gives you perspective and it means you’re human.”
When Your Colours Go
“I was approached to write a song for a stage show that was in the early stages of development. The idea was to write a song about “tenderness”.
I decided to interpret that as tender like a bruise. Tender to the touch, wounded, slightly damaged. It’s very hard for me to write about things that I haven’t experienced, but I wanted to take on the challenge with this song.
I drew upon situations I’d been in, things I’d seen others experience, and also my own sometimes brittle relationship with creativity itself. I tried to make it gender non-specific too, and I wrote it on the piano. All of these things were a challenge, but I love the way this song turned out. It’s dark; it sounds defiant and hopeless at the same time, which reflects the leap of faith any of us take when we throw ourselves into a relationship.”
Doing What You’re Told
“This song is meant to be fun. I don’t often do that with music; write a song to have fun. It’s a good concept! It’s about the fact that every successful creative person I know is consumed by a burning desire to keep being creative. It’s a compulsion.
We complain about that fire in our bellies, and how it makes life hard sometimes, but we also seek it out and want to be burned by it. It’s what makes creative folks kind of annoying, often confusing, but hopefully interesting too?”
Someone To Rust With
“This song sounds sad at first, but it’s actually incredibly triumphant. It’s about crossing a line into something far deeper and meaningful that you can imagine when you start.
It’s about knowing someone better than you know yourself, and relying on them to know you in the same way. It’s about how things can be brand new, constantly evolving, stable and intimately familiar all at the same time. It’s about ones history and ones future being a circle, and not a linear progression.”