Last week Sydney-based singer/songwriter Dominic Breen dropped his debut album, Blue Volume. It’s a consummate collection of tracks from the talented multi-instrumentalist. He is a masterful storyteller, with a turn of phrase that makes you sit up and listen intently. With some really lovely guitars and a voice that is warm and yearning, Blue Volume is a wonderful listen. From the short and punch “Lovelost” to the dreamy “Realy Hard Week”, it’s a stellar debut from Breen.
Dominic writes of the creation of the album “It was a strange time. I had a job lined up in the Gibson desert. I was ready to throw in the towel on the life I’d been working on. I’d just started taking lamotrigine, this anticonvulsant medication used to treat bipolar. I was trying to quit smoking. The first Covid waves were beginning to break and uncertainty loomed. Here we were, Tim and I, burrowed away in an attic producing these yearn jams, and outside, in between it all, I was starting to fall in love again, and Tim had just become a father.”
The final single of the album is “Real Hard Week”. He plays every instrument on the track, highlighting his musical prowess. Fans of the classic Go-Betweens will totally dig this.
Speaking of the track, Dominic says “Real Hard Week” was the first song we recorded for Blue Volume. I wanted it to be epic, like the pivotal song in a musical, like a Sondheim classic or something. I initially thought it would be a duet and I was using the word ‘Disney’ in the studio to convey what I was trying to say, like, ‘let’s make it more Disney’. But then I realised that the sentiments were truly one-way sentiments, and that in this case, the conclusion at the end of the song could only be my own.”
The album was produced by Tim Fitz (Middle Kids) , and mixed and mastered by Matthew Neighbour (Matt Corby, The Avalanches).
To celebrate the release of “Real Hard Week”, Dominic has created a playlist of just the songs to listen to during a ‘real hard week’. Diverse in styles and eras, from the timeless Bob Dylan to Brazil’s Belchior, and Sydney’s favourite muso, Andy Golledge, it’s just the tonic to get you through a tough one. Crank it up and have a read and listen.
Georgia Mulligan “Singing Stripe”
Georgia’s got a samurai sword for a voice. Whatever bullshit you might have on your mind will always be cut to little pieces with this song.
Belchior “Comentario e Respeito de John”
I lived in a rundown sharehouse for a few years with some Brazilians and Colombians. I made great friends and was introduced to a lot of great music. In dark times, this song by Belchior always fills me with a sense of hope and empowerment. Like a ‘get out of my way! I can do this!” sort of thing. The arrogance of the Anglosphere with respect to who the ‘top songwriters’ are is funny to me.
Hand Habits “Yr Heart”
The song gives you chills and somehow warms you at the same time.
John Cale “The Endless Plain of Fortune”
This song is evocative and mysterious. It’s got that midnight sound. I’m always affected by the relationship between the slide guitar and the strings. It’s like sirens crying out and it just gets me. John Cale writes things with all these strange historical references that really I don’t know much about, and yet the songs are so powerful to me, especially this one. On another note, this song should be sampled by a hiphop producer. Even in the first ten seconds you know it’s Phat.
Andy Golledge “Run To The River
On a real hard week, you gotta know there’s a place, and Andy gives us a place.
Freddy Fender “Before the Next Teardrop Falls”
Freddy Fender knows how to write Yearncore.
Nico “I’ll Keep It With Mine”
How long can you search for what is not lost?
The Kid Laroi “Stay”
The Kid Laroi understands.
Bob Dylan “Positively 4th Street”
If you look back at hard weeks, which is ill advised, you might feel tender, or venomous, and sometimes you feel a bit of both. This song summarises the tender/venom feeling for me. I guess Real Hard Week has a little tender venom.
Charley Pride “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)”
I’ve been in constant physical pain since June and haven’t been able to walk until very recently. I still need a walking stick. When things get hard, I sing this song and for some reason it makes me smile. Charley has a golden voice. And the lyrics, well, I think it’s funny coz it feels true in my case, at least right now haha.
Blue Volume is out now on all digital platforms. You can order vinyl HERE. Dominic Breen can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Website, and Youtube
Header image credit: Alexander Mcdonald