Greg Arnold (from Things Of Stone & Wood)
Releases 5th solo album In the Sky
Greg Arnold is best known for being the front man and songwriter from beloved Aussie folk-rock band Things Of Stone & Wood. The band’s top ten hit “Happy Birthday Helen” became a staple on Australian radio. In fact, it continues to get a spin and has even carved out its own space in the “new-school” world of streaming – quietly amassing over 5 million streams on Spotify.
At his core Greg Arnold is a songwriter and a musician. Whilst during his chart-topping hey-day he won an ARIA and was awarded an APRA songwriter of the year, he has never stopped making and being involved in music. He is a producer, a published author, an academic (earning a PhD in songwriting) and he is now releasing his fifth studio album In The Sky, recorded in Geneva, Switzerland with his European band The Suburban Daydreamers
Arnold has spent the last 8 years based in Switzerland, but that has not stopped him touring, releasing music and continuing to build his name as one of this country’s most valued songwriters, with the The Music claiming he is “arguably as important as Paul Kelly in telling Australian Stories”.
In The Sky will add to an impressive body of work for this Australian treasure, however, it takes a slightly different tack to his previous offers.
In some ways it is a musical alternative history.
Arnold’s early career was dominated by a rejection of all things 80s. Things of Stone and Wood was an organic, acoustic band, based on a stridently 60s/70s retro aesthetic. However, after a recent backstage band room chat, he realised it was time for a reassessment.
As he recalls:
Floydy just kind of blurted out one day, I prefer the 80s to the 90s and I was, like … “Whaaaaattttt???? How could you say such a thing?” But, then I thought about the big hearted guitar sounds of The Oils, Tom Petty and U2 around then, and the atmospheric, romanticism of The Cure, The Cult and The Church and I remembered … that’s right … when I loved something in the 80s, I really loved it, in spite of the context. I was in my 20s, a new record was everything, and I just took all that boundless ‘epic’ to heart.
So, with some delay pedals and a trusty borrowed telecaster, he went into Geneva’s Unagi Sound studio with legendary French studio drummer, Stef Roul (Dave Stewart, East 17) and long-time Scottish/Swiss (Swottish?) producer-collaborator Toby May to make the record he might have made in 1989, had violins and mandolins not taken over his entire musical character.
But, ultimately, it’s all about the songs, and his signature melodies and harmonies are everywhere, and while the aesthetic might uncover a surprising sonic ‘what if?’, the spirit of ‘now’ looms large. Whether it’s the celebratory “Tick Tock (Running Down the Clock)” or the personally reflective “Troubled Skies”, the album documents this moment in a life and consequently, the broader societal moment is ever present. A general consideration of entitlement and privilege pepper the album, particularly on the title track, the piano ballad “Blown Away” and feature track “Songs of Sorrow”, of which he observes:
A Middle-class, middle-aged white guy singing at the top of his lungs about how middle-class middle-aged white guys should, maybe, shut up and listen for a bit, what can I say? The irony is not lost on me.
It is this ‘coming from a true place’ lyrical perspective that gives In the Sky its depth and reveals an artistic aspiration that clearly lies well beyond a horizon of sonic nostalgia.
In The Sky is out on the 20th October and Greg Arnold is touring the country to launch it. As always, in addition to his solo back catalogue he’s always happy to smash out some of the TOSAW hits and rarities, too.
Greg Arnold – In The Sky Album Launch Tour
Fri 3 Nov – Lyrics Land, Perth WA
Sat 4 Nov – Freo Folk Festival, Fremantle WA
Sun 5 Nov – York WA
Thur 16 Nov – Republic Bar, Hobart TAS
Fri 17 Nov – Royal Oak, Launceston TAS
Sat 18 & Sun 19 Nov – Mount Roland Folk Festival, Sheffield TAS
Sun 3 Dec – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC