Australian icon JAMES REYNE will release his new album ‘Toon Town Lullaby‘ on 10th July,
Toon Town Lullaby – James Reyne’s first studio album in eight years – features searingly honest reflections on missed opportunities (‘A Little Ol’ Town South Of Bakersfield’), the music industry (‘Low Hanging Fruit’) and the modern world (‘Burning Books’). There’s also a moving tribute to James’ best mate (‘The Tallest Man I Ever Knew’) and ruminations on romance. “In matters of the misses,” James notes in ‘Calamity Jane’, “there is one who kisses, and the other who offers the cheek.”
Dig deep and you’ll also find references to some songwriting greats, including Warren Zevon, David Allan Coe, Jimmy Buffett and Blaze Foley.
Produced by Dorian West and James Reyne, Toon Town Lullaby – James’ 12th solo studio album – also features James’ stab at trying to write a love song called ‘Trying To Write A Love Song’. “A number of people have said to me over the years, ‘Why don’t you ever write a love song?’ So I thought I’d give it a go,” James says. “I also wanted to use ‘Yuengling’ in a song.”
James and Dorian played nearly everything on the record, with Dorian’s daughter, Asha, adding some backing vocals, while James’ longest-running musical partner, John Watson, played drums. James and John have been playing together for 37 years. “It’s almost ESP,” James says of their connection. “He just plays my songs really well, he gets them. He’s a song drummer – he sits inside the song, he’s brilliant.”
One of Australia’s finest lyricists, James addresses the muses in the title track, a song about songwriting, inspired by a writing trip to Nashville, the songwriting capital of the world – Toon Town. “I’m gonna leave my room and hand my gloom on to some other guy,” James sings.
“When you’re writing a song, sometimes the muses will visit you and sometimes they don’t,” he explains. “With songwriting, you’re pretty much sitting alone in your room, not necessarily gloomy but you’re trying to make something out of nothing. You really are relying on your wits, and sometimes you’re at your wits’ end when nothing is coming.”
The hits have been flowing for James Reyne for more than 40 years. Toon Town Lullaby coincides with the 40th anniversary of Australian Crawl’s classic debut album, The Boys Light Up. As the late-great critic Ed Nimmervoll observed, James’ voice is “as familiar to us as the taste of Vegemite, as essentially Australian”.
James has had 19 Top 40 hits (nine solo, seven with Australian Crawl, and three as part of Company of Strangers) and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1996. But his quizzical eye remains firmly fixed on the future. “That was then, this is now,” James notes in ‘A Little Ol’ Town South Of Bakersfield’. “Don’t make the past your sacred cow.”
But James is not afraid to revisit the past every now and then, and share some personal memories. Toon Town Lullaby includes a heartfelt tribute to James’ best mate, Brad Robinson, ‘The Tallest Man I Ever Knew’.
James and Brad went to school together and formed Australian Crawl. “It’s a very personal song,” James says. “There are a few in-jokes in there that only Brad would get.”
And James lets his mate know that he’s still out there, defiant and trying to make sense of the world we’re living in. “Well, I’m still tilting at those windmills,” he sings, “and shouting at the rain.”
Long may he do so.
James Reyne – TOON TOWN LULLABY – is released on Friday July 10.
Tune into James Reyne’s Facebook page on Sunday June 7 from 5pm NZT/7am CET for an exclusive video release.