The pop singer comes into his own with his new single "Sail Away," the lead-in to his forthcoming EOS EP.
Ben Hazlewood has fought more than most. The tired and winding road can be a lonesome one. Through an admirable finish on The Voice Australia in 2012 to issuing his post-show music independently, the singer has gone through the wringer but survived. "Here's to hoping that I won't stay broken," he sends up a prayer on the peeled-back piano breakdown of "Hideaway," an Affirmation-era Savage Garden-glued tune, found on 2016's criminally overlooked Vanta EP. The seven-track disc contains some of his most alluring work, electro-pop constructed on piano, flittering synths and a thoughtful, long-overdue utilization of his mighty rock voice. Later this year, Hazlewood is set to issue the second part, called his EOS EP, which features songs that are "a little softer and relaxed but it still has the power and emotion," he tells Popdust over a recent email.
The forthcoming release is anchored with the off-kilter downtempo "Sail Away," which frames the graininess of his voice overtop the blustering echo of guitar. "[This song] is about trying to help someone out of a difficult time, trying to get them to make the choice to move away from something that is no longer working and offering the support and chance to let go and make that change," he says. The arrangement is far darker, laced with a sinister edge, perhaps a musical manifestation of his friend's shadowy mental state. And Hazlewood's interpretation of that turmoil sends shockwaves across the skin, then seeping into the other senses. "I recorded the vocals a couple of times on this track. I really needed the emotion in my voice to tell as much of a story as the lyrics and production. I wanted people to feel the desperation and love that it would take to try and convince someone to trust you in such an intense moment," he explains, noting the strength and nuance of such vocalists as Jeff Buckley, Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks as his primary influencers.
With an accompanying visual for "Sail Away" to drop anytime soon, he says it's the "most exciting" video he's ever attempted. "You get such a strong sense of the emotion in the record, and [the video] really connects with the music perfectly," he adds.
He then cites another song, called "Feel the Love," which has been essential to his transformation, from his new EP. "My Dad and I wrote it together, and it's for my Sister, well, for my whole family--so I'm really looking forward to sharing that with everyone." Stylistically, EOS allows the singer-songwriter to explore "a more raw, organic sound" and to "really focus on telling the stories in the most honest way," he says. He also promises to dig into uncharted territory. "There are some subjects in my life that I have never touched on in my songwriting. A lot of what I have written has been about experiences I have been through with people close to me."
Reflecting on the Vanta EP nearly a year later, he considers the aptitude and skill which he allowed himself to flex. "I opened up in my writing and production ideas. I feel it really gave me the confidence to take my songwriting further and opened the door to everything that will come next," he says. He then discusses the development of his craft so far. "I am so lucky to have been able to write with so many great songwriters and artists. I have been writing recently with Gin Wigmore, who I have always looked up to as an artist and songwriter. She has pushed me, which has opened up a whole different side of me. It's been incredible to work with such a talented, supportive, and creative person."
In the past five years, since his singing show days, Hazlewood has been forced to come to terms with an industry spinning fast and faster every day. The brutal truths were, at first, hard to swallow. "People can have a perception of you that may not be 100 percent accurate. Sometimes I have felt that I've had to work twice as hard to show them who I am as a singer and songwriter before they understand and support what I'm trying to achieve," he admits.
Take a listen to his new single "Sail Away" below:
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There's an entire genre of YouTube videos that consists of nothing but news bloopers, and they're equal parts hilarious and panic-inducing.
"Right after the break, we're going to interview Erik Weihenmayer, who climbed the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, but he's gay—I mean, he's gay, excuse me, he's blind."
Back in the early 2000's a young news anchor in New Mexico had a slip of the tongue on live TV that has enterred the annals of news blooper history.
Gay Mount Everest www.youtube.com
Cynthia Izaguirre had just gotten done reporting on a separate story discussing activism for gay rights, and was setting up a segment with the first blind man to climb Mount Everest, and her thoughts got twisted on the way to her mouth, resulting in a 14-second clip that would live on in infamy.
Here's what to listen to this weekend.
If you're anything like us, you're probably overwhelmed by the sheer number of albums being released on a weekly basis.
We're here to make your music discovery a little bit easier. Popdust's weekly Indie Roundup finds the five best albums coming out each week so that you don't have to. Every Friday, we'll tell you what's worth listening to that might not already be on your radar.