Ben Abraham Sirens on 2LP w/ Etching
In contrast to its ethereal title, Ben Abraham's Sirens is deeply human. Its songs were written over the artist's developing years as a writer and, by now, the album has become a kind of musical documentary of the loss, longing and growth that carried him from his very first lyric to this, his first long-player. Abraham first found his voice writing songs whilst working in a hospital. Eight years on, he's toured with Emmylou Harris, co-written with Grammy-nominated singer Sarah Barreilles and made Sirens, his debut album. Originally self-released in Australia, Sirens is now receiving a worldwide release via Secretly Canadian.
Sirens was recorded with two local friends, Jono Steer (who was Abraham's live mixer) and percussionist Leigh Fisher. A number of other Melbourne musicians joined in on sessions, including Gossling, whose angelic voice can be heard in the opening track. Gotye helped produce the haunting vocals on "Speak," while experimental electronic producer Tim Shiel assisted on "This Is On Me." The story arc of Sirens is roughly in three parts. The first songs (from "Time" to "You And Me") encapsulate what Abraham describes as the "introspection and naive longing of my early twenties." "Collide" to "Speak" represents "deeper themes" before the final act ("Somebody's Mother" to "A Quiet Prayer") "are more outward-focused. I wanted to release music that's an evolution of my work, to tell a story, like I'm growing. I play it live in the same order."
"This Is On Me," co-written/sung with Sara Bareilles, has its own story. "I'd found Sara back in the old MySpace days. She's a great singer and songwriter, but what connected me the most to her was her lack of pretence - she wrote this sprawling, personal biography for herself, as I'd also done, and she was trying to find way through on her own, like me. But how best to get her attention? So I posted a song ['To Sara, From Ben'] on You Tube."
Bareilles' fans began to Tweet the video and it grabbed her attention. When she played Melbourne in 2011, she invited Abraham up on stage (they co-sang a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire"), and so their collaboration was subsequently born. "This Is On Me" is a fictional tale of a couple "who both know their relationship is over, but both are taking responsibility for it." By the time it was recorded, Abraham had split with his girlfriend: "The song became, word for word, a scarily accurate story of what actually happened."