Blake Dantier pays tribute to country music’s traditional sounds
NSW country music singer-songwriter Blake Dantier writes lyrics that make compelling listening because they come from left field.
The title of his earlier single ‘Wish You Were My Beer’ came from a line in a Brad Paisley song.
It was further flamed by his interest in home brewing. He even worked in a brewery for tips.
Dantier’s new single ‘Layover’ is a summer song with a laidback groove.
In it, a guy flies his girlfriend to a tropical paradise and proposes, but she turns him down.
“He finds out in a pretty rough way that he was just a layover, while she was waiting for the next guy to come along,” he explains.
It was inspired by an episode of violent TV show The Blacklist as well as a US location he’s never actually been to.
“The inspiration for the tropical paradise was Palm Springs in California. I haven’t actually been there, but visually I like the way the palm trees are set against the desert.
“That image has been an inspiration to me throughout the album I’m putting together.”
Musically, ‘Layover’ is a preview of what to expect from his debut album Dry Season, due in February.
While many of his friends in the new generation of Australian country acts show a partiality to pop sounds, Dantier keeps to traditional country.
He actually grew up in Penrith in Sydney’s west – where classic rock ruled.
But when the family drove to the NSW South Coast to holiday with his grandparents, he’d be listening to his father’s collection of Faith Hill and Shania Twain CDs.
Theirs was country-pop but the sound of steel guitar intrigued the teenager enough to trace it back to Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings.
“There should be more of that style of music. Most of it is done by people who’ve been around for a while now, when it was popular in the ‘90s. I reckon it’s time for it to come back.”
Blue Mountains-based Dantier is surprised at the level of his success because he only started to release records last year as COVID hit.
The lockdown took away many media and live performance opportunities to promote them.
Nevertheless, The Music Network described him as “One of the most exciting prospects on the local country scene”.
All four singles –including ‘Ash & Dust’ and ‘I’d Do It Again’— entered the national Country Airplay Chart and one won him Country Rock Song of the Year at the Tamworth Songwriters Salute (TSA) Awards.
Two songs he co-wrote for his fiancée, country singer Cass Hopetoun, won Songwriter of the Year and Ballad of the Year at this year’s TSAs.
Already able to play drums, guitar, lap steel and mandolin, Dantier used the lockdown to learn keyboards, and did a harmonica course.
These instruments make their appearances on Dry Season. But they are played by a crack team of session players assembled by producer and bassist Simon Johnson.
He also tried his hand as a videographer. Although he liked the images he came up with in the video for ‘Layover’, he realised they didn’t fit the song and opted for a lyric video using an image of Palm Springs.
Recording took place at Johnson’s studio Hillbilly Hut on the NSW Central Coast, about 45 minutes from Newcastle.
“Most of the basic tracks were recorded live, which is the way they do things in Nashville.
“I wanted to make it like that, it added a touch of authenticity.
“I went on a recon trip to Nashville. I loved the excitement and sense of community.
“I’d like to spend more time there, taking in the opportunities and writing with other people.”