Musical visionary Luke Steele has always taken the road less travelled, whether garnering critical acclaim with The Sleepy Jackson or conquering the world with multi-platinum selling act Empire Of The Sun.
Today, Luke Steele announces the birth of a new chapter of music, Listen To The Water, his debut solo album set for release on May 13 and available to pre-order HERE now.
“I’m taking you on a journey to myself”, Steele says of his forthcoming album. “This solo record was a chance for me to be naked, fearless and on my own. That was confronting,” Steele says. “There was salvation and sadness, dreams and nightmares, heroes and villains. Strange changes, epiphanies, miracles and madness.”
The result is a work of pointed words cloaked in a richly swirling atmosphere, an album that captures the blend of innocence and wisdom, which questions without the need for answers. Pedal steel dances among the acoustic guitars and percussive nuances. Around every corner, Steele’s vocals sit so beautifully close revealing an almost tangible vulnerability.
And while it’s rare for an artist with more than 20 years in the industry to have a first, musically speaking, for Steele that moment has arrived with this record. In a modern world where “the radio sounds like plastic”, LISTEN TO THE WATER sounds like wood and breath, rivers and stars, strange yet familiar.
The first single, Common Man, sets a heartfelt tone of human frailty on the strum of a simple acoustic guitar, a bed of synths and shards of pedal steel. “Common Man is about the underdog. The working class, forever hustling but sometimes it gets too much. Finding a place of rest is unpredictable, it comes in waves. But the triumph is born from that struggle and you’ll see the glory within all the moments and tests.” says Steele of the track.
The video for Common Man is directed by Jodi Steele, Luke’s longtime creative collaborator. “This song is about existing between beauty and torment, mentally and emotionally. Being the common man but not part of the conformity. As your endurance is tested your character is forming. Visually the video was shot at the height of snow fall here at the Eccentric Farm where we had the opportunity to shoot in such a pristine and alien environment. Luke cuts a dark figure, a black shadow against the stark white backdrop. Light and dark elements co-existing, not unlike what lives within us all.” Says Jodi of the striking video.
LISTEN TO THE WATER began to take shape in the gathering storm of late 2019. A fourth Empire Of The Sun album was in a state of pause, a global pandemic was on the horizon and the city of Los Angeles was conspiring to set Luke and his family adrift on a new adventure.
“It was like I was being summoned elsewhere. Our home in LA got infested with ants, the freezer shut down, lights were constantly flickering on and off and the message became clear,” Steele recalls.
That’s when the Eccentric Farm materialized with such predestined perfection that Steele didn’t hesitate. “We didn’t even come and see this place, we just bought it, six acres, a lake and a log cabin,” he laughs. “It was the start of a wild ride. Leaving this affluent LA neighbourhood and heading to a small highway town in Northern California where bears became neighbours and bats were dusk time invaders. For us, it was polar opposites.”
“The record is a story, A moment swimming in my head,” Steele says. “A memory captured in music.” Homemade videos feature Luke’s daughter Sunny Tiger (13) and son Cruz (7) playing against glistening water and open fields: a bucolic contrast with “the mess and the madness within the songs; this wrestling in my mind,” Steele reflects.
“I have hard-wired myself to be in a constant state of ever-grow. I will never be satisfied. You don’t make a record for no-one to hear. I want people to be captivated by it. In a way it’s a life story. You want them to hear the mistakes, the wisdom, the failure but also the glory.”
LUKE STEELE’S DEBUT SOLO ALBUM LISTEN TO THE WATER WILL BE RELEASED ON MAY 13, 2022
PRE-ORDER HERE NOW