Track By Track: Imogen Clark takes a deep dive into The Art of Getting Through

Imogen Clark

Sydney’s Imogen Clark has bared her soul in her epic new album, The Art of Getting Through, released today. Imogen is a musician who boldly embraces her fears and tackles headon the challenges that lie ahead.

It’s fair to say that no stone was left unturned in the making of this record. The courage taken in sharing her inner-most feelings, good and bad, were matched by the lengths taken to record in destinations that were musical meccas. The album was recorded in a dream wish-list of recording studios across the globe. One of these highlights was recording at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London. As if recording in those hallowed rooms wasn’t enough, they were able to play the piano which Paul McCartney played on for “Lady Madonna”.  Imogen and her team also recorded in East West Studios in LA, where the Beach Boys recorded Pet Sounds. Peter Frampton’s studio was another inspiring location.

Amongst the musicians that played on the record were members of Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Gang of Youths, Steve Poltz, Bo Koster from My Morning Jacket and the great Jim Lauderdale.

There were a number of co-writes on The Art of Getting Through. The collaborators include Katie Wighton (All Our Exes Live in Texas), Eilish Gilligan, Sam Phay, Lindsay McDougall and many more. The studio musicians on the album were the best of the best. There is a sense that each musician who contributed to the album added their own sparkle, and were encouraged to share their experience and knowledge in the recording process.

Imogen has bravely bared her soul and boldly called out the wrongdoers and naysayers in The Art of Getting Through. It’s a remarkable record that isn’t afraid to illuminate those moments when life can be daunting. There’s plenty of upbeat rock and roll moments too, from the Springsteen-esque “The Noise” to the unrequited love bop of “Sebastian”.

Imogen has recently moved to Nashville, however will be back in Australia to play a couple of shows in Melbourne and Sydney. Ticket links are below.

Anyway, it’s time to get into the album. Imogen has kindly written for the AU an expansive trip into each song on The Art of Getting Through. So, do press <Play> and read on.

Imogen Clark – The Art Of Getting Through – Track by Track


I grew up in Western Sydney and spent my teen years at Penrith High School by day and playing sketchy pubs at night, dealing with creepy men hitting on me and bar fights breaking out in front of me. So many people I knew then couldn’t imagine more from life than getting married and having babies as soon as possible with their high school boyfriends, and dying in the same suburb they were born in. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that if it makes you happy, it sounded like a nightmare to me. I always dreamed of running away into the big wide world; the London of The Jam, the California of Joni Mitchell, the New Jersey of Bruce Springsteen. This song is about knowing my hometown made me who I am, but it made me a person who had to leave it to realise her dreams.

Recording this at Abbey Road with Jung, Max and Donnie from Gang of Youths was one of the most creatively fulfilling days of my life. I stood where The Beatles made some of their greatest music, where Pink Floyd recorded Dark Side of the Moon, played the piano Paul McCartney played on “Lady Madonna”, and the ideas just flowed nonstop between all of us, everyone jumping between instruments, hyping each other up and trying to make music that lived up to the surroundings we were in.


A big part of this record was about telling the unvarnished truth about my life and how I became the woman I am, and what I survived along the way. I’m ten years on from my eating disorder and this is the first time I’ve felt strong enough to delve back into that version of myself and write about that experience. I wrote this song with Sam Phay in Melbourne – he is one of my favourite people to write with because he always makes our sessions feel like a safe space for me to be vulnerable, and it let this song come out the way it had to.

I wrote this song as a letter to my teenage self, about the things I wish I had known and felt and understood when I was seventeen, but I hope it can connect with the girls and women who are going through those struggles now.


I was talking to one of my best friends who is queer about the latest clusterfuck episode of my dating life, and at one point, she said “It’s so weird for women who are attracted to men, having to date your natural predator”. The lightbulb went on in my head and I took the idea into my co-write with Katie Wighton from All Our Exes Live in Texas. This song flowed out of us so organically. It felt like we wrote it in the time it takes to sing it, and I think that’s because every woman can relate to the feeling of having to live in a constant state of caution. It was obvious as soon as we finished it that it was going to make the record.

We cut this in LA with Davey Faragher on bass and Pete Thomas on drums, who have played on so many of my favourite records by Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, etc., but are best known as the rhythm section half of Elvis Costello and the Imposters. This was a particularly special track to record because Pete’s daughter Tennessee, the drummer from The Like and Nice As Fuck, came in and played double drums with her dad. Watching two generations of incredible drummers sitting at drum kits facing each other and wailing on this song with so much drive and energy is a moment I’ll cherish forever.


A lot of my music is about fighting for your own worth, fighting to matter and be valued. This song is about wanting to be “the big one” for somebody, to be a person who they can never forget, even if things don’t work out.

I wrote this with Sam Phay, deep in the midst of listening to heaps of HAIM and MUNA. I wanted the song to feel like its title, a massive singalong pop anthem. Sam’s demo was so amazing that we ended up using a lot of those original elements in the finished track.

This was one of the first songs we recorded in LA at East West with Gus Seyfertt on bass, who’s played with Lana Del Rey and Adele, and Griffin Goldsmith from Dawes on drums. They put so much punch, dynamism and electricity into the song; we were whooping and hollering in the control room when they took off on that last chorus!


Most of my deepest and longest lasting friendships have been with women; the people who understand me, who really see me as I am and are always there in my corner. I had never felt that with any man I’ve dated and I ached with the sadness that maybe I would never have that. I wanted to capture that in a song, without obviously being like “oh, woe is me, it’s so hard being straight”. It’s more of a love letter to the women in my life, the women who have been the loves of my life in all ways but sexually.

I wrote this with Eilish Gilligan, an incredible indie/pop singer/songwriter and producer, and much of her original demo is still in the song. When I was in the studio with my producer Mike Bloom, we decided to add a post-script, an instrumental epilogue that dramatised the love I have in my heart that I long to give. Nate Wolcott from Bright Eyes wrote this beautiful string arrangement that took it to a cinematic fantasy realm, with Griffin Goldsmith’s drums anchoring it to Earth. I asked one of my closest female artist friends, Hayley Marsten, to add some wordless vocals in the outro to put her DNA into the song that is really a tribute to my love for her and all the beautiful women in my life.


I have never gotten over anything. I have a long memory and hang on to every time anybody has fucked me over, and it’s not a short list. I was thinking about this quite unhealthy trait of mine the day I dropped into Sinead Burgess and Blake O’Connor’s apartment in Nashville and we ended up writing this. We put up a drum loop, got out the guitars, picked at the scab and this song came out.

Musically, this song is about tension and friction. Davey Faragher and Pete Thomas burrowed deep into the pocket, Mike Bloom and Harper Simon sweated out these blistering guitarguments together and Ben Alleman kept it tasty with his keyboards. I cannot wait to play this live, and it’s great to have a song in the set that is poking fun at how I sing about empowerment but have never really healed from anything that’s happened to me. I think a lot of us feel the same!


This song is a waking nightmare, a fever dream of the road not taken. I met Steve Poltz when I was singing at Port Fairy Folk Festival, was knocked out by his songwriting and when I got to Nashville to start recording the album, I messaged him about getting together to write.

We sat down at his place and I let it rip about the life I could have led if I’d never gotten out of my hometown, if I’d never found the strength to fight for myself. There’s a type of person who lives in Western Sydney who are nicknamed “squinters” because if they work a 9 to 5 job closer into the city, they’re always driving home towards the west when the sun is setting, squinting to see the highway ahead. We were trading lines back and forth so fluidly, like I’d had this song percolating inside of me and waiting for the right person to bring it to boil with. We finished it in an hour and went to gorge ourselves on tacos.


I wrote this song at the darkest point of my life. It was the lowest point of the pandemic, the culmination of a harrowing descent of my already precarious mental health situation to the edge of a cliff. For the first time in my life, I didn’t want to exist anymore and I began to understand how a friend of mine had gotten to the point of taking that exit route.

This song poured out of me at the piano one night, as I was clawing my way back, climbing from despair to determination and telling the world and myself that I wanted to live and I was going to fight for it.

I was so proud of this song and so nervous about recording it, knowing it had to be exactly right. We recorded at East West Studios in Los Angeles, where the Beach Boys made Pet Sounds. Bo Koster from My Morning Jacket came in to play piano and Gus Seyfertt was on bass. What doesn’t feel real even as I think about it now is that Jim Keltner joined us on drums. The word legend doesn’t cover it; fifty years of being the heartbeat on more classic recordings that you can name, including “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan and “Jealous Guy” by John Lennon. He’s quiet and charismatic and stunningly egoless – he didn’t drop a single name all session – and he spent hours deep in the nuances of the song, always serving the meaning of the song and full of compliments for my writing and singing. It is incredibly special to have him on this song that means so much to me.


This is the oldest song on the record, a testament to waiting for the right time for a song to come to fruition. I wrote it in 2018, and it quickly became a live favourite. To all the people who would ask me at the merch desk when that song is coming out, sorry you had to wait six years!
I started the track with Michael Carpenter in Sydney. MC has an unlimited imagination and helped me transform the song from its strummy folk origins into this gnarly indie tune.

We then took it to Nashville and Sam Hawkesly put together an incredible cast of A-list players for a session at Peter Frampton’s studio, people who have played on records by Stevie Nicks, Taylor Swift, Don Henley and many, many more. They brought endless ideas and that tight rock propulsion that gave the song its organic half.

Making this song the title track was an early call that helped us understand what the album was about, what other songs should make the cut and how to sequence the tracks. Even though we opted not to add any text to Giulia McGauran’s stunning album artwork, I feel like you can feel the title and the album’s essence every time you look at it.


Lindsay McDougall is a real renaissance man, not only the guitar hero of Frenzal Rhomb and a brilliant broadcaster, but the person responsible for the word “cockforest” entering my vocabulary.

We’d played together a few times, he’d interviewed me and I always loved his sincere no-fucks-given honesty and attitude, but we’d never written together before. On the day of our session, he fired up his amp and I imagined a prophecy of a relationship with a douchebag manchild that I’d yet to experience, but unfortunately soon would. In retrospect, if I’d realised this song would manifest into real life, I’d have written a song about hooking up with Sam Fender instead.

We tested this out live at a gig in Melbourne and I loved what Rich Bradbeer and Jess Ellwood did with the bass and drums, so I got them to come and play on the track, which Michael Carpenter and I finished in Sydney. Lindsay came in to play guitar and lay down that wicked slide solo, and I can’t wait to play it live with him sometime.


I have a history of bad timing, meeting men who seem perfect for me but they’re already spoken for, and often they end up becoming friends. This song is an amalgam of some of those experiences, written with Eilish Gilligan when I was in the middle of crush frustration with a man and it had taken over my brain. It’s funny with this song coming out, calling around to my friends named Sebastian to make sure they know the song isn’t about them.

It’s funny that this became the summery disco dance number on the record, since it’s about unrequited love and could be quite sad, but we decided to lean into the horniness of it and got Raymond James Mason to arrange big 70s horns and Mike Bloom ripped that crazy Prince style guitar solo. The great thing about songwriting is that a blip in your life can live forever as a song and become its own thing, whatever the original inspiration was.


This is another Eilish Gililgan co-write, a big synth rock burst of energy to wrap up the record. I had a minor meltdown when I turned 25, worrying I was losing my relevance and would be put out on the ice flow by the music industry, which shows you how fucked up things are for women in this business.

This song is my rejection of that feeling and really my rejection of letting “the way things are done” dictate my life, my priorities or what I do with my art. This is my career and my music and I’ll do things my way, and every year older I get, I get smarter, wiser and just plain better at everything I do. I’m proud of the woman and artist I have become and I know I will be even prouder of who I am ten years from now, and again after that. “I’ve still got the noise” means still having something to say, still having that fight in you, and it’s also a reference to my favourite lyric from an older song of mine ‘High Tide’: “They may have the guns, but we got the noise”.

We wanted this song to feel like the culmination of the preceding tracks, so we threw in a couple of musical references to other songs. The vocal melodies of ‘If I Want In’ and ‘The Last of Me’ bookend the instrumental section, and I think you feel that subconsciously even if you don’t pick it up consciously.


This is the epilogue of the album, the encore, the song that strips it all back and takes stock. This is an album that says “This is what made me, this is what I survived and fought against, this is who I am and what I’m worth and I’m powering through”. This track is examining that cliche of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and wondering if that’s always the case.

Would I be the woman I am without the trauma and the pain? How meaningful can life be if it’s just a smooth ride? But also, is the wisdom always worth the fight to win it?

I wrote this with Jim Lauderdale, one of my songwriting heroes who has also been generous enough to take me on the road with him a few times. We wanted to write something that felt classic and timeless, like a Carole King song, and it’s the only song on the record not recorded to a click track – just Jim Keltner’s impeccable feel on drums, Gus Seyfertt’s tender upright bass and Bo Koster’s beautiful piano playing, with subtle atmosphere from Mike Bloom’s guitar and a stunning string arrangement from Nate Wolcott of Bright Eyes.

We recorded the strings at night because all the players were busy on a film score during the day, and it felt like closing a book, drawing a line under the story of this phase of my life and giving it to the world to read.


Thursday 14 November – Low 302, Sydney – tickets
Saturday 16 November – Wesley Anne, Melbourne – tickets

The Art of Getting Through from Imogen Clark is out now on all major streaming services. You can purchase CD’s and Vinyl HERE

Header image credit: Michelle Grace Hunder

Bruce Baker

Probably riding my bike, taking photos and/or at a gig. Insta: @bruce_a_baker