Australian singer songwriter Ziggy Alberts is Searching For Freedom, with his latest album of that name, released in March this year. The twelve tracks are a melodic, guitar driven, vocal journey into the world of human emotion. At times meditative, always delving deep into the emotions that both hold us together and keep us apart, Searching For Freedom gives us a collection of lo-fi, low key tunes accompanied by some really soul searching lyrics.
Kicking off with ‘Keeper‘, the album sets out the gentle, understated musicality that weaves the whole together. The guitars and vocal harmonies sound beautiful and are matched by the understated emotion of the lyrics:
You’re a keeper, holding my highest regards
The stand out tracks for me follow next, with ‘Together’ and ‘Don’t Get Caught Up‘. ‘Together’ sets out it’s stall from the beginning, singing of
I wonder why we seem to be
More concerned with our flags
Oh then we are with unity or love
Here in the UK, recent weeks have seen much discussion about the place of our national flag in public life and these lyrics jumped out at me as being particularly apposite. However, the rise of populist politics has been a global trend for some years now and the lyrics describe the somewhat bizarre world of super oppositional views we now inhabit, making other issues easier to be hidden away, something that Ziggy acknowledges further in the song. These lyrics are set against the ever gentle yet toe tapping melody, bringing the themes to the surface in a way that’s almost not noticeable. Rather than leave the listener with these problems, Ziggy then gives us his own solutions:
We can come together now
I will stand beside you, won’t let hate reside here
Lock hands together in the crowd
The message is carried over into ‘Don’t Get Caught Up’, with
Don’t get caught up
Letting the news tear each other apart
Fear’s making money but doing nothing for us
The recently released single, ‘Heartbeat‘ is a smooth look at love and the end of love, with the brilliantly evocative line “still gonna miss your heartbeat”, grasping that the physical absence of another person is the thing that you miss most at the end of a relationship. The loneliness of being alone is further explored in ‘Holding You‘, a piano led ballad that looks at all the reasons why something shouldn’t and probably won’t, work but concludes that nothing is better than “holding you”. We’ve all been there in at least one of these scenarios, right?
The title track continues the gentle, soul searching narrative arc, both musically and lyrically and feels like Ziggy has taken us on a contemplative journey – I’m glad I joined him.
Ziggy’s advice for aspiring musicians encompasses both the practical and the emotional:
“I think the most useful advice I could give to up-and-coming artists is to get clear on why you are pursuing music as a career in the first place. If you can get clear on that, it will help shape your decisions when faced with a crossroads. For example, at one point I realised several things; that a big driving factor behind playing shows was to cultivate a sense of unity with the crowd, and I wanted to stay independent to keep my autonomy in decisions regarding my career. I played a lot of alternate places – a lot of the time they weren’t even music venues. They were backyard shows, cafes, community halls and street busking. Compared to playing a lot of bars, these places allowed me to connect with my music community in a more heartfelt way. I remained involved in big decisions and turned down major label contracts and started Commonfolk Records with my family. This can be more work at times, but it has been crucial and allowed me to release songs without having to seek many people’s approval above me.
Now, that is what has worked for me. However, this may not be the most effective approach for you. Perhaps you play rock and roll and would like to sign to a major record label, play big festivals, and be less involved in certain parts of your career. This is just as valid as my approach; there is no wrong way to go about it. But if you can get clear on what your purpose is in music, and note if or when that changes, many big decisions will be much less laboured. Enjoy the ride!!
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