It’s been just over a year since the release of Sam Hawksley’s debut album, ‘On Any Other Day’. A busy year for Sam, spent doing interviews and live performances for radio stations around the country, countless miles on the road, numerous song writing sessions both in Australia and overseas, and finally a return to the studio to record a host of new songs.
Whittled down to 11 fine tracks, those songs have become ‘Anything You Want’, the second record from Sam Hawksley. ‘The title is an insight into the different things going on stylistically on the record’, says Sam. ‘There’s rootsy singer-songwriter stuff, reggae in ‘Butterflies’, the almost country feel of ‘Come Back Baby’, ‘Only Crying’ is rock ‘n’ roll and ‘Into the Blue’ is a kind of surfing song’. As the title track says: ‘Anything You Want’ I’ll give you it all’. Unlike the debut ‘On Any Other Day’, which was recorded one track at a time over the course of a year- as Sam puts it ‘We just recorded on any other day we weren’t working with anyone else’ – , ‘Anything You Want’ was a much more time-conscious affair.
Working again with producer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Fell, Sam returned to the studio on October 21, 2004, and with his band of Glenn Wilson on drums and Matt Fell on Bass and they laid down the 11 band tracks in only two days, bringing in keyboard players Bill Risby, Stuart Hunter and Mark O’Connor to overdub. Sam then worked alone on the vocals and guitar parts, his sessions interrupted by some good news: Sam and his band had been chosen by Keith Urban as his support act on his national Australian tour in February 2005. ‘That really gave us the drive to finish the record’, says Sam. ‘We cancelled all our other gigs and worked like dogs, putting it to bed on Boxing Day. Luckily we were already halfway through the record, and with so much of it recorded live by the whole band, rather than the track-by-track affair that was ‘On Any Other Day’, it came together quite quickly’. That live band feel is the main difference between ‘Anything You Want’ and its predecessor. ‘I really wanted to capture the sound of the band and the way we play live. We used lots more guitar this time, too, which makes sense cause I’m a guitar player by trade! As Matt puts it, ‘It’s the 90% less Mellotron album’. What we did carry over from the first album though was a mood, a texture for each song’.
Some interesting collaborations appear on ‘Anything You Want’. Sam toured with Australian rock legend Russell Morris, and together they penned the tale of a witness to a gangland murder, ‘As the Crow Flies’. Russel also sang a verse of the song and provided backing vocals for a result that brings to mind classic Robbie Robertson. Two songs – ‘Butterflies’ and ‘There You We’e’ – feature keyboardist John Deley, a mate of Sam’s who was touring with Dido at the time. ÒWe recorded on stage after Dido’s sound check in Sydney. We set up the computer, and John put down his key parts then and there. The support band was sound checking in the background’. There are a few other interesting co writes on ‘Anything You Want’: noted singer Peta Morris (Paul Mac) who worked on ‘Butterflies’; and Brooke McClymont who co-wrote and sang on Come Back Baby’. ‘That song we actually wrote years ago, but didn’t record it for the first album because there was a country singer in Holland who wanted to record it. I didn’t even know there were cowboys in Holland – it must be hard to get your horse going in clogs!’
As for any favourite tracks on the album, Sam is reluctant to name any. ‘Sometimes you write a song, sitting by yourself with an acoustic guitar in a motel room in Wagga, then during the recording process it grows into something that you just weren’t expecting – that can make a song more special to me. But I guess they all rock my boat in different ways. ‘Adelaide’ I wrote with Kim Richey, an award winning singer-songwriter at her place outside Nashville – it’s got such a great rootsy feel. ‘Into the Blue’ is special too. It takes me back to my childhood, and all the weekends and school holidays we used to spend on the Central Coast of NSW. In fact the opening line comes from all those years ago, and a Lifeguard who used to say every Friday ‘Seeya Mundy’ as he bolted out of the surf club, and the last verse is about my dad.’
Pressed for future plans, Sam simply intends to keep writing, playing and singing. ‘Maybe on the next record I’d like to get together with the band and write a bunch of songs, make that part of the recording process, rather than arriving with songs already chosen. I had a taste of that on this record, writing words and melody to a tune Glenn brought in, so maybe I’ll explore that approach next time around.’
One of Australia’s most underrated singer-songwriters is back, with a collection of heartfelt songs that are as satisfying as pulling on your favourite pair of jeans.