Category: lyn bowtell

Interview: Lyn Bowtell of BBU

7E2D6F5D-372D-497D-B058-324CB1F98A41.jpegElsewhere on this site I have written about the extraordinary Lyn Bowtell, who is one of our finest solo artists and one of my favourite country music artists. When, in 2015, I read that she would be playing at the Tamworth Country Music Festival with another of my favourite artists, Felicity Urquhart, and with Kevin Bennett from renowned band The Flood, I thought it might have been a dream: how, in reality, could these three wonderful singers have decided to join together? That show, ‘Country Heart and Soul’, was the beginning of the group that became Bennett Bowtell & Urquhart, or BBU. In 2016 BBU released their debut eponymous album and in 2017 won two Golden Guitars for it. This September they  released their second album, Weeds. The band doesn’t play many shows, given the schedules of its members individual careers (Urquhart also hosts ABC Radio’s ‘Saturday Night Country‘), so if you have the chance to see them, you must. It is, without fail, an evening of world-class music from three of our best singers and performers.

Recently I had the privilege of speaking to Lyn Bowtell about the formation of BBU and their latest album.

Congratulations on the new album because it’s just wonderful, as I knew it would be, and as the last album was too. And, so when did you individually or the three of you start writing for it?

Well, I was trying to work this out before, and I think I told a furphy, and I said it was March but that’s not true. We actually started writing end of last year. We really wanted to have a go at writing it all ourselves this time. The first album, we were incredibly proud of that, but it was kind of one of those things, we said we’re going to do this now and we made the decision and it happened incredibly fast, and there were some great tracks on there but they weren’t our own that we just adore singing and love doing, and exactly the same thing happened this time. We looked for other material outside of our own writing pool, because I think sometimes artists miss the point, and they’re always trying to record their own songs, but they’re not always the right choice. So we were looking outside of that, outside of ourselves, but we did start writing early on together.

The way that works is, one of us will bring an idea to the table. So when we get together, we plan to write three songs within the space of a day. We bring an idea each. And it doesn’t always end up that way. Sometimes we’ll have two and a half songs or one song, you just don’t know. Songs don’t always stick to a schedule, but the idea is we bring a song each, an idea each that we could, as KB [Kevin Bennett] puts it, we could have easily finished at home but when we write it together, it definitely ends up having its own life. Because of iPhones being so incredible these days, with your voice memos on them, I was going through voice memos the other day and listening to the way I had originally written these songs, some of the tunes that I’d brought the ideas for, and some of it is exactly as I first wrote it – like, one verse is exactly the same – and then the chorus just goes completely opposite direction and has an amazing life to it now that it would never have had I been writing that by myself.

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Single release: ‘Love or Money’ by Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart

BBU.jpgWhen Kevin Bennett, Lyn Bowtell and Felicity Urquhart first joined forces in 2015 to form Bennett, Bowtell a Urquhart, it seemed like the best kind of gift to Australian country music audiences. Each has a glorious voice and a catalogue of standout songs; together they are, simply, magic.

BBU released an eponymous album in 2016 and are now set to release their second LP, Weeds, on 7 September. The first single, ‘Love or Money’, is out now. Watch the video below – and, if you can, see them play live. The magic is even better in person.

 

Weeds will be released on 7 September. Order a signed CD from the artists here.

bennettbowtellurquhart.com

Apple Music | iTunes

Tour dates:

Fri, Sep 14
7:00 pm – 10:00 pm BBU Sydney Album Launch – The Acoustic Picnic
The Music Lounge, Sydney NSW

Sat, Sep 15
7:30 pm – 11:00 pm BBU Newcastle Album Launch, Lizottes
Lizottes, Lambton NSW

Fri, Sep 28
8:00 pm – 10:30 pm BBU Central Coast Album Launch – Hardy’s Bay Club
Hardy’s Bay Club, Hardys Bay NSW

Sat, Nov 17
8:00 pm – 10:30 pm BBU Melbourne Album Launch, The Spotted Mallard
The Spotted Mallard, BRUNSWICK VIC

EP review: Calling You by Lyn Bowtell

There is absolutely no way that Lyn Bowtell could produce something that is not worthy of an effusive review. Even if you never paid attention to any of her lyrics, her voice alone makes her extraordinary. Those who have seen her play live know that her clean, sweet, warm, perfectly pitched sound is as pristine live as it is recorded. And they also know that she is adept at conjuring powerful emotions – it is hard to get through one of Bowtell’s gigs without shedding a tear. So her voice is a powerful instrument, which means something – and means more because although she has a huge range and it has such an incredible sound, she never uses it for display. There are no superfluous notes because Bowtell also respects the song and will do whatever is necessary to serve it.

Calling You is Bowtell’s first release since her exquisite 2014 album, Heart of Sorrow, although it is not entirely her work.

Three of the songs are covers: the first track, ‘He Burns’, was written by Foy Vance; there’s also a version of her live favourite ‘Hearts of Gold’ by Sting, and of ‘Let it Be’ by that somewhat popular songwriting duo Lennon McCartney. Bowtell, of course, makes these songs sound like she wrote them – when a performer is so accomplished and also understands music so well, it can’t be a surprise that she is able to find a new and personal way to interpret an old song.

Bowtell is also part of the country music troika Bennett Bowtell Urquhart and there is original music by her on their album. So I won’t grumble that there’s not a complete album from her now – instead, it is a treat to have any new songs. The three original songs on the EP – ‘All My Life’, ‘Calling You’ and ‘Far Away’ – sit beautifully beside the three covers. As with all of Bowtell’s originals, they are stirring and thought provoking. If the EP were just those three songs, it would a lovely piece of work. It is an absolute treat to have more. Let’s hope there is even more soon.

Calling You is out now.

iTunes

Amazon

 

lynbowtell.com

Album review: Heart of Sorrow by Lyn Bowtell

Lyn Bowtell has been a valued member of the Australian country music industry for quite a while – her two Golden Guitars attest to that. As she hasn’t reached the same level of fame as some of her contemporaries, however, Heart of Sorrow may mark the first time that many people have heard of her. And it’s quite an introduction.

This is an album that defies categorisation because the category is ‘the artist is wonderful’, but if it recalls the work of anyone, it’s that of Canadian singer-songwriter Jann Arden. Bowtell’s voice recalls Arden’s but it’s actually Arden’s versatility across genres that is the reason for the comparison. Heart of Sorrow ranges across genres, too – it is not a country music album but it’s an album that country music fans can love; it is, to generalise, an album that clutches at the listener’s heart and haunts their brain. It’s an album that, when I first heard it, I felt like I’d been missing for years and I was overjoyed to discover again. 
The title song and first single should, really, be a number one, and possibly would have been in not-so-long-ago days when artists like Bowtell received the sort of promotional support that could make them known to the broad range of listeners they’d appeal to. However, the whole album is made up of songs like that. All of the songs are powerful and heartfelt and gripping. In a way, Heart of Sorrow seems like Bowtell’s way of saying, ‘I’m really here’. And she really is. This is an album that reveals a life lived, and still to be lived. There are no empty sentiments and no wasted words. There is no hiding, either – Bowtell’s voice is a very accomplished instrument but she is not using it to obfuscate meaning in her lyrics. 
The album was produced by Shane Nicholson, who has already shown that he can take on music of many types and produce greatness. The production on this album is clean and delicate while allowing for complexity, as if Nicholson can hear the song within the song and make sure that all levels of meaning are recorded. Bowtell’s remarkable voice shines, but it does not overpower the instruments that support it.

By all standards – quality of the songs, song selection, talent of the singer, production of the album – this is a remarkable album. It’s also an album that should stand as a classic – but that doesn’t mean anyone should take their time discovering it. It’s an album that we all need, even if we don’t know it yet.

Heart of Sorrow is out now through Sony Music.
lynbowtell.com