Blasko’s back to basics, with no strings attached

SARAH Blasko feels great about her album I Awake now, but at the time of making it, she thought the record “would kill me”.

“It sounds scary and melodramatic now,” the two-time ARIA winner laughed.

“But if I’m honest I’ve felt that way on every album. 

“There’s so much pressure, it does feel like the end of the world.”

Blasko readily admits the pressure is of her own creation, but with her fourth album she was understandably nervous that she had bitten off more than she could chew when she decided to work with the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra. 

“The thing that terrified me about making an album with an orchestra is that it would be wishy-washy or it would not have any character or ballsiness to the way the orchestra was used,” she said.

“The scariest thing is trying to work out how to pull it together. It was overwhelming. (I thought) I’ve taken on such a grandiose thing. 

“So many things could have gone wrong.” Fortunately, they didn’t, something Blasko attributes partly to the orchestra, Sydney composer Nick Wales, drummer Fredrik Rundqvist and bassist David Symes.

Working with an orchestra for an entire album was a “natural progression” from her third album As Day Follows Night, which featured more of a focus on strings and acoustic instruments compared with her first two albums.

“I got so tired of keyboards and fiddly stuff and guitars,” she said.

“I wanted to hear space. I’ve made two albums now with acoustic instruments only. They have so much character and so many different ways you can bring sounds out of the instruments.

“The first two albums I wanted to have it layer upon layer upon layer but it can be ... wishy-washy. 

“I’m still proud of those records but at the same time there’s something important about stripping things back and getting back to the bare bones. Going backwards to go forwards sort of thing. 

“I’m getting back into the electronic stuff now, but it’s taken a while to be able to stomach it again. I found it overwhelming at a certain point.”

As for choosing the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra out of all the orchestras in the world, Blasko said a Bulgarian family connection on her father’s side was the reason.

“When I read about the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra I thought if I’m going to record with an orchestra it will be the BSO,” she said.

“I had this romantic notion I’d get in touch with some part of my history.”

Her current tour, which brings Blasko to Warrnambool for the first time in six years, comes nine months after the release of I Awake, giving the singer-songwriter plenty of time to stand back and assess the record.

“I feel great about it,” she said.

“I feel so proud of it as an album ... it’s probably the best thing I’ve done.”

Blasko and her band perform at Warrnambool’s Lighthouse Theatre on Friday night, supported by Fletcher.

mneal@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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