May day

AFTER 20 years in the music biz, Perth artist Abbe May is going back to basics with her latest album A(live) Alone With You.

Featuring just the singer-songwriter and an acoustic guitar, it’s an incredibly raw and powerful performance that was recorded in front of a live studio audience in Perth last year.

“I wanted to strip away all the production around the songs and see what was left,” May says.

“It was an huge challenge emotionally more than anything else. 

“I had been battling a feeling of disconnection to my identity as an artist and so it was an enormous undertaking to find the courage to make myself and my music even more raw! I’m glad I did this.”

The album includes unplugged versions of old favourites like Mammalian Locomotion, Taurus Chorus and Pony, as well as five previously unreleased tracks.

Don’t expect dainty, floral arrangements with May bringing a punk sensibility to songs like Fuck You.

“Some [of the unreleased songs] were around since I was a very young woman; I wrote You Took My Geetah when I was 21,” she recalls. 

“Others I wrote on the day of recording as I am prone to procrastination. I may now record some of these songs for my next studio album.” 

During her two decade career, May has won a swag of music awards and fronted a number of bands and solo projects, wowing audiences with her passionate vocals and searing lead guitar work.

She skilfully fused rock and blues histrionics with the moody introspection of Goldfrapp, and has recently started to explore a ‘doom pop’ sound.

A(live) is almost full-circle for May, whose first solo recording was a lo-fi affair with just an acoustic guitar.

“Adam Burgess recorded me on his four track way back around 2006. I am still very proud of that record. It was called Gin and a Microphone.” 

So after all these years in the music business, what inspires May, now 38, to write new material?

“I am inspired by learning. I read lots, I have been learning to meditate and am just trying to expand my vision and philosophical understanding of life,” she says.

“I am also in love and so I am very inspired by the simple happiness that has brought me.

“My cat, Tuxedo Winnie, is also a source of both amusement and inspiration.”

When May started out, music streaming was in its infancy, but now it’s de rigueur with artists complaining about how little money they make from streaming services.

During last month’s Euro 2020 soccer championships, the unofficial England anthem Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home) was downloaded millions of times, but co-writer David Baddiel said he only made a few hundred pounds.

“I think it is harder than ever for musicians to make money from their recordings,” May notes.

“Live performance is lucrative but Spotify has gutted the capacity for us to earn from the sale of music. 

“That said music is still vital not only for music lovers but for musicians who create for catharsis. I remain passionate about music but I am wary of the industry!”

May isn’t resting on her laurels and is busy writing material for a new studio album, but in the meantime she will have a launch gig for A(live) Alone With You at Freo Social on Friday (July 30) at 8pm. Tix at moshtix.com.au

Abbe May’s new album A(live) Alone With You features her performing an acoustic gig in front of a live studio audience in Perth.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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