NEIL FINN: OUT OF SILENCE
“For a long time, I’ve wanted to do a record in one crack and get it out in a week… Then I thought, ‘Well if we’re going to do that, let’s not make it a little acoustic thing that’s easy to record in one session. Let’s make it the most sophisticated record I’ve ever made.”
Throughout August, Neil Finn gave his fans the opportunity to follow the progress of his new album OUT OF SILENCE, with four weekly live streams culminating in the incredible four hour session last Friday that concluded the process.
It was an ambitious undertaking. Not least because the songs that comprise OUT OF SILENCE demand ambitious settings. However, as the sessions progressed, it slowly became apparent that the audience was privy to the creation of something truly exceptional.
Completed on the very first day of the sessions, the album’s initial single More Than One Of You seemed to establish the emotional temperature for what followed, given wings to fly by an illustrious choir featuring well-loved New Zealand recording artists Tiny Ruins, Lawrence Arabia and Don McGlashan. Unveiled on the second of the four live streams, Alone saw Neil’s brother Tim step forward to share the vocal duties after the pair warmed up with renditions of a couple of old Finn Brothers songs.
Anyone who has been watching the album sessions unfold will know just how crucial Victoria Kelly, already feted for her work with director Peter Jackson on The Hobbit and The Lovely Bones, has been to the process. Prior to OUT OF SILENCE, Neil and Victoria had worked together on the acclaimed Dizzy Heights album and a string of ensuing live shows. Both relished the challenge of recording OUT OF SILENCE in this way. As Neil puts it, “The thing about it is that if you’ve only got, at best, two or three chances to get it right, you don’t dick around in the studio. You prepare as best as you can. You make sure the songs are bolted together right.”
On Chameleon Days, an unadorned piano phrase is undercut by ominous strings. Independence Day is a gem in the tradition of Love This Life (from Temple of Low Men), Faster Than Light (from Try Whistling This) and, of course, Don’t Dream It’s Over (Crowded House). Terrorise Me is rooted in the tragic events that befell the Bataclan in November 2015, a memorial to every person who lost their life that night. “In my distant home,” sings Neil, “I will write a melody/That I will sing for you when I return/It may not change a lot/But I'll give it everything I've got/It will come to life because of you.”
Then there’s the insidiously catchy Second Nature (“inspired by a couple I saw on a Vespa in Athens, looking like mythological Gods”) and Love Is Emotional, a nod to our powerlessness in the face of what love has in store for us. Listen also to the careworn confidences imparted on I Know Different, somehow deeply personal yet utterly universal. It isn’t easy to make it look this easy.
The same, of course, could be said for the manner in which the recording sessions proceeded. It is hard to believe that the majority of OUT OF SILENCE was recorded in a single four hour burst. But perhaps the greatest mark of its success is that, were you not watching it happen in real time, you would never be able to guess. A mere week later, OUT OF SILENCE is available to download and stream, with CD to follow two weeks later. For Neil, it’s the culmination of a life-long ambition. “Sometimes making music and making records don’t always feel like the same thing. But I always felt there had to be a way to merge them. And for me, this was the way to do it. I finally worked it out!”
OUT OF SILENCE available to stream/download NOW.