Sally-Anne Whitten is a singer/songwriter you may not have come across if you’re not that familiar with the Australian Country Music.
This Tamworth bred performer’s latest offering, Burgundy Street, was inspired by her life-long dream to visit New Orleans, which she did in 2015. The album cover depicts the singer’s holiday digs, where she wrote some of the tracks and the place where she was inspired to cover Jon Cleary and Alan Toussaint songs.
Tomatrax caught up with Sally-Anne to ask a few questions.
You’ve just put out your 3rd album, how does it feel to have it out?
Relieved! But also excited. I’m really proud of this one- it feels most like me out of all the albums I’ve done I think, so I’m pumped to get it out to everyone, and as always with a new release a bit nervous as to what the reception might be.
It’s been 6 years since your last album, what have you been up to over this time?
Life … just doing messy life. I’ve lost some very important people in my life, and that took the wind out of my sails for a long time…traveled a bit, studied music at University, quit my awful day job, written songs, drunk lots of wine and played lots of gigs.
What’s the significance of ‘Burgundy Street’?
It’s the name of the street I stayed on on a 2 week trip to New Orleans in an attempt to heal a broken and bruised heart. It’s in the middle of the French Quarter and I was able to stay in a unit there and immerse myself in the sights, sounds, tastes, and all things N’awlins…. and hence, the inspiration for this album. I wrote songs, gathered inspiration, listened to other performers/songwriters, soaked up the history.,. and lots of that ended up coming out in this album.
The album features appearances from including James Craswell, Rae Moody, Allison Forbes and Mick Pealing. Was it hard to get all the guests together?
Yes! It was a bit like herding cats… trying to get different musos together in one room! Technology of course makes things a bit easier, but we ended up doing sessions and sending files at word times of the day and night to make it happen. But so worth it- these guys are amazing, and making music with your mates is the best.
What made you pick ‘Watch it burn’ as the album’s lead single?
I needed a strong opener… it’s almost like I’m making a comeback, I’ve been out of the recording world for a few years now! It needed to be a statement, and this song is about trusting yourself and moving forward, throwing away things and people in your life that no longer serve you. Seemed appropriate!
You’ve received a lot of critical acclaim for your work, does this make you feel any pressure going forward?
It probably should… Of course I’m always apprehensive about releasing something new.. I want people to love it… and I’m always wondering how it will be received, if people will understand it. I really strived to make this album authentic though- All I wanted to do was make a record I’m proud of that reflects who I am and what I do… with great grooves. I think I’ve done that, so I try to think any pressure on me is mostly from myself.
When writing what comes first, the words or the music?
I’m so not a formula writer. Sometimes I get a riff in my head first, which leads to a rhythm pattern, then a melody, then an idea for a lyric… sometimes I write words first, then find the chords and melody and metre to support it. Whichever way the muse strikes! I’m a songwriting tutor’s nightmare.. lack of formal method!!
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Not really. Sometimes I’ll pop an album of mine on after listening to something else to compare the mix. but I’m generally quite uncomfortable listening to my own music. Especially just after you’ve spent all that time in the studio with it…I start thinking about all the things I could have done differently… you send yourself crazy!
What music do you listen to?
I have my favorites- Jon Cleary, Bonnie Raitt, Rodney Crowell, John Hiatt, Sheryl Crow.. those guys are always an inspiration to me. At the moment I’m really digging the Black Sorrows last effort, Robben Ford, and the California Honeydrops. Grooves for days!
Now that the album is out what do you plan on doing next?
Doing a film clip, and Tour, tour, tour! Get our stuff out to as many wars as possible! Keep writing, collaborating,
Check out Sally-Anne Whitten’s website to find out more!