Vanessa Amorosi talks about her first independent album release The Blacklisted Collection
When the pandemic restrictions came into effect, she was on her property outside Los Angeles and worked in her studio.
Over nine weeks, every Monday she would share a new track with her global following.
At the same time, she went back through songs she had written (or co-written) which missed out on the final cut of previous albums.
“It’s interesting why they might not have been included,” Amorosi muses. “Didn’t the sound work? Were the lyrics too intense? Didn’t it make sense for them to be included on a pop record?”
She says gigging up the gems was, “so liberating for me because I’d been wanting to get these songs out for such a long time.
“Because I knew they’d be appreciated by other people if given the chance to hear them. So when you’re in isolation, you have the time to create and plan.”
The Blacklisted Collection is Amorosi’s most compelling record to date, one which provides what she calls “a missing link” to her art, and underlines her grasp for melodies and turning stories into narrative and anthemic arcs.
The mood shifts from the radio-friendly ‘15,000 Revs’ to the gorgeous sweet-grooved soul ballads ‘Nobody Talks To You Like That’ and ‘The Last Goodbye’ to the thrilling gospel workouts of ‘The Light’ and ‘Sweet Mirage’.
The gospel choir on ‘The Light’ is actually the singer, who did the 50 overdubs after coming up with the arrangements.
“I sing every single one of those voices. Then I get different people to replace them just for a different texture.”
For ‘Sweet Mirage’, “I just wanted to create an atmosphere to feel there was a mirage, being so close to something, and it disappears.”
Amorosi grew up in public as a teenager, nailed major moments like the Olympics and sold two million records.
Yet for the most part, she avoided losing her direction in an era of R&B/hip hop and The Voice.
In 2011 she moved to Los Angeles to find herself and a new voice by tracing the sources of the music she loved.
On her last few albums, she was experimenting and testing those vocal cords from hell. She now takes it to extremes on The Blacklisted Collection.
You can’t help but be impressed by her high register when she slam-punches lines like ‘I don’t need to be told when I’m already there’ and ‘the thrill I get on the edge’.
Or the low register when she puts the blow-torch to hot-tempered swipes as ‘I’m trapped and I’m stuck, stuck in my head’, ‘should have fought back / should have run!’ and ‘your insecurities have got the best of you’.
Then there are some tracks where she skilfully combines the high and the low to dazzling effect.
I ask how much of these new voice shades come from marrying a gym owner and martial arts proponent, and if becoming a mother has calmed down her lifestyle any.
“I don’t know about that! (laughs uproariously) I haven’t changed any of my habits. “I still drink too much coffee and I don’t follow those singing routines like having hot water after a vocal take.
“But you know, it helps me pull off crazy stuff and move around more on stage.
When I arrived in LA, I was chasing a dream. I was still doing a lot of creative stuff. But now I have more of an anchor into the ground. I can’t be a gypsy anymore, I can’t go from city to city.
“I have responsibilities which keep me grounded, and the love I have for my baby is like no other.”
Kate Ceberano joins on the set’s one cover of ‘60s British band The Kinks leader Ray Davies’ ‘I Go To Sleep’.
It was never recorded by the Kinks themselves but covered in the ‘60s by The Applejacks and German singer Marion and in 1981 by Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders.
“It came about because Kate mentioned that song. She was doing some streaming at the time, and she was hearing the songs I was releasing every Monday.
“She said, ‘Vanessa have you heard this song? Let’s do a cover of this together’. I’d never heard of the song until she mentioned it, and I instantly fell in love with it.
“The melody is so haunting and the lyrics are so great, they make you stand on the edge of your chair.”
Amorosi would listen to the song again and again on her daily runs, and so fell in love with it that it was included on The Blacklisted Collection.