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By New Music

Dancing between soft enchantment and compelling emotion, Leah Flanagan’s new LP is pure poetry

Recorded over three years with Midnight Oil‘s Jim Moginie, Oceanic Sessions is Leah Flanagan‘s third studio album, here to heighten the senses and captivate your hearts.

A timeless voice with sophisticated delivery, Oceanic Sessions is a soundtrack to reflection and human interaction, from daydreaming to falling in love. Mixed by Richard Belkner and mastered by Steve Smart, the record is a nine track compilation of Flanagan’s mesmerising vocals and sun-kissed melodies.

A reflection of the mentoring collaboration between Flanagan and Moginie, Oceanic Sessions is a charming blues/ folk offering delivered upon tranquil acoustics.

With musical accompaniment from Moginie, Dylan Hartas, Tom Jones, Niall Anderson and Ursula Yovich, the making of Ocean Sessions encouraged Flanagan to experiment with instruments she had never before used in a live recording environment. Moginie encouraged Flanagan’s own ideas to flourish, opening her up to exploring new musical pathways.

Jim gave the confidence to trust in my own ideas and the time to experiment with sounds and instruments I hadn’t used previously in a live or recording environment. He’s an Australian music legend and I am humbled that he took the time out to work with me.”

He has made me want to explore more with sounds and samples. Previously everything I had recorded had been with traditional acoustic instruments.”

With two records Suadades and Live at the Bella already under her belt, Flanagan believes recording music is a completely different ball game to writing and performing and Oceanic Sessions is a reflection of that learning process.

The songs from Oceanic Sessions were actually recorded before Saudades and Live at the Bella Union. From 2013 – 2015, I spent time working on my songs with Jim so I could get my head around the recording process a little better. I’d moved to Sydney in 2012 and finally had access to studios for the first time as coming from Darwin, there weren’t any recording studio facilities for people like myself to spend time and develop ourselves in this area.”

It’s one thing to write and perform songs successfully, recording them is such a different art form and process. The progression is this record really… these songs were part of the learning experience/journey that resulted in Saudades.”

Reflecting on her own personal experiences and hardships she has endured in life, Flanagan’s music is also derived from poems and self-crafted narratives, creating a mixed bag of inspirations.

I think all my songs in a way reflect personal experience. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are personal narratives by any means. The songs Chloe in the Window Box and Waiting on the Good Man were derived from poems written by Sam Wagan Watson, a poet and friend of mine. The Bay of Broken Dreams is narrative driven but it’s told from the perspective of a man who drinks at his local pub in old Darwin town, inspired by many people I’ve known over the years from playing in bars.

Bring Her Home is a dedication to my cousin after a tragic accident where we lost four members of our family and sadly her mother was never found after the wreckage was recovered. There is no ‘theme’ to this album. It is ultimately a collection of songs that were brought together by the process, not by sonic or thematic correlation.”

With the recent addition of a new family member, any live performances for Flanagan will have to take a backseat for the time being, although the promise of an album launch at this year’s Woodford Folk Festival and early next year at Leadbelly in Newtown is on the cards.

I’ve just recently had a baby so I am not touring or playing live too much at the moment. Instead I am launching the album at the Woodford Folk Festival over Christmas New Years. I will do a mini tour in early 2018 with the Sydney album launch at Leadbelly Newtown on the 4th of February.”

Flanagan’s voice is so incredibly powerful and gracefully executed, you can feel the emotion pouring out of each song. The musical components in each track are beautiful yet minimalistic and rightly so, as Flanagan’s enchanting vocals and charming lyricism take centre stage.

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November 30, 2017

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