CLOSE YOUR EYES AND SEE
The Blackeyed Susans have released their seventh album, Close Your Eyes and See, through Teardrop Records. Their first album of new material in over a decade, the release finds the group near the height of their powers, delivering one of their strongest collections of songs to date, masterfully arranged and performed by a band with over 25 years experience together.
Led by chief songwriter Phil Kakulas and producer Dan Luscombe, Close Your Eyes and See combines the honeyed vocals of singer Rob Snarski with long, reverby trails of pedal steel, tremolo guitar, violin and keyboards. The result is a meticulously crafted album of dreamlike torch songs, bruised ballads and atmospheric rockers that sounds both classic and contemporary.
By anyone’s reckoning, The Blackeyed Susans’ 2009 best of retrospective collection, Reveal Yourself, would have been a fitting conclusion to an illustrious career, but a sense of unfinished business and a clutch of new songs that called out for The Susans ‘treatment’ put paid to that. In 2015, recording for the new album kicked off at Birdland Studios, Melbourne, before relocating to The Drones’ TFS Studio, Bakehouse Nth, where the group worked intermittently on the record throughout 2016. Patient Blackeyed Susans’ fans were finally rewarded when 'Lover or the Loved', the first single from the album was released in December 2016, along with three exclusive bonus tracks.
Lush, beautiful and mysterious, Close Your Eyes and See is a response to the wonderful and woeful world we live in - an appeal to keep your dreams alive, even when it feels as if you’re living in a nightmare. If the outside world poses difficult questions, the answers may just lie within.
But don’t take our word for it. Close your eyes and see.
Rob Snarski: vocals
Phil Kakulas: bass, Fender VI, guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, (vocal on Can’t Find The Moon)
Kiernan Box: keyboards, harmonica
Mark Dawson: drums, percussion
J.P. Shilo: guitar, violin, backing vocals
Graham Lee: pedal steel, lap steel, guitar, backing vocals
Matthew Habben: saxophone
Ken Gardner: trumpet
Adam Hutterer: trombone
Clare Moore: vibraphone
Dan Luscombe: OP-1, guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
"A strong and eclectic batch of atmospheric noir." **** 4 stars
Steve Bell - The Music
“Late night music for lovers”
Jeff Jenkins - Stack Magazine
“Close Your Eyes and See is the assured work of a confident and inspired band still at the top of their game” 8/10
Graham Blackley - Beat Magazine
"A masterful comeback...these songs slow the pulse and nourish the soul" **** 4 stars
Doug Wallen - Rolling Stone Australia
"This slow burner of glorious post-punk pop earns the love over time" **** 4 1/2 stars
Chris Lambie - The Age
DREAM ON – THE VIDEO
Step in to the strange and wondrous world of The Blackeyed Susans as imagined by filmmaker and photographer Lyndelle Spruyt of LJ Spruyt Photography. Make up by DanaLeviston. Song written by JP Shilo, Rob Snarski and Phil Kakulas. Produced by Dan Luscombe. Performed by The Blackeyed Susans.
Track by track song notes
1. Dream On (Shilo/Snarski/Kakulas)
The album takes its title from the opening line of this opening track:
Close your eyes and see
The darkness holds a light inside of me
The truth is not so much out there as in there. Clouds of pedal steel waft through an interior landscape that promises hope in the face of despair and beauty in the face of brutality.
2. Lover Or The Loved (Kakulas)
The first single from the album, released late 2016. Rob Snarski croons his way through a Phil Kakulas lyric that asks more questions than it answers:
Are you the lover or the loved?
Are you the one below or the one above?
Are you the one who loves too much or not enough?
Are you the lover or the loved?
We all want to be loved, right? Well, The Susans aren't so sure. Engulfed by a starless sky and imbued with a gentle ache, Lover or the Loved brings its pulsing rhythms and Velvets guitar lines to a compelling conclusion.
3. I Asked My Mother (Kakulas)
In which The Susans combine a twisting bass synth line reminiscent of Tango master Astor Piazzolla with a lyric inspired by Dr. Seuss’ Are You My Mother. The result is an epic tale about the awful truth - with references to Leonard Cohen, Oedipus Rex and Lady Macbeth.
I went up to the mountain
I found Cohen by the fountain
He said I know just what you’re going through
4. The Shining Path (Kakulas)
Based on the true story of a Melbourne teenager’s first words after emerging from a 3-week coma after a near fatal car accident. The song rises and falls on its protagonist’s Houdini-like commitment to return from the afterlife, if and when they can.
God is scary and cars are scary too
5. I Don’t Dance (Anymore) (Kakulas)
In which the loss of one’s dance moves is seen as symbolic of the loss of one’s spirit and/or youth. A tragicomedy about everyday anxieties and the not-so-splendid isolation that can result.
No Tango, no Two-Step and no Cheek to Cheek
No Mambo, no Moonwalk, won’t even shuffle my feet
I’m still dragging round this old sack of woe
It’s hard and its heavy but I can’t let it go
6. Colours Move (Snarski)
The song opens with a Shepard tone, an auditory illusion in which a sound seems to be continually rising or falling but does not get higher or lower in pitch. Confused? That may just be the point, as a stream of fragmented images combine here to forge a portrait of disorientation and bewilderment.
Putting back the pieces
Splinters of the day
Float up to the ceiling
Bit by bit they waste away
7. Not Quite The Same (Shilo/Snarski/Kakulas)
It’s a torch song of sorts, harking back to an era of classic songwriting. The world is playing tricks on you. Something has changed. Something invisible and intangible is gone. Guest appearance by Clare Moore on vibes.
Just a fantasy
A fairytale version of you and me and our make believe lives
A memory of when I was more certain
Now something has changed and I’m wondering why
8. Can’t Find The Moon (Kakulas)
Kakulas takes the lead vocal on a Dylanesque trip around inner city Melbourne, meeting such wounded characters as zoo patron Tarzan and nursing home Jane. It’s funny and poignant and the band comes on all Blonde on Blonde.
Tarzan’s got a loincloth
He likes to wear it to the zoo
But Jane she’s got dementia
She’s in a nursing home in Kew
9. Farewell Boys (Kakulas)
The closing track bids farewell to all with gratitude and some small regret. Time to get the house in order and make amends where possible. A sense of isolation returns along with a frustration with the language to communicate these matters – a recurring theme throughout the album. Stirring trumpet solo by longtime Susans collaborator, Ken Gardner.
Farewell boys, I hope that you forgive me
Seems that I’m my own worst enemy
And the walls I built for my protection
Well they made a prisoner of me
Now where was that escape route?