Last week Western Australian singer-songwriter Tanya Ransom released her latest EP, Breakdown to Breakthrough. Comprising five tracks, Tanya blends her unique blend of folk blues and alt-country with an entrancing honesty. We premiered the lead track off the EP, “Cyclone” in November last year, so it’s a treat to see the remainder of the record see the light of day.
Her songs deliver hope for those that have been through tough times. There is soul-searching that leads to self-growth, and these narratives are deftly woven with some fabulous musicianship. Dave Mann features on slide guitar and harmonies, Roy Martinez on bass, and Daine Spowart on drums. A constant through each of the tracks is Tanya’s vocals, which grip and deliver their truth with strength and clarity.
Listening to this EP, I was reminded a little of another great WA artist, The Waifs, which is no bad thing.
The EP is being launched via a series of shows in WA throughout October. Details are below.
To celebrate the release of Breakdown to Breakthrough, Tanya has written a track-by-track breakdown for the AU, so do press <Play> and take a deep dive into this emotive and absolutely rewarding EP.
Breakdown To Breakthrough from Tanya Ransom – Track by Track
Since writing and recording “Cyclone” back in 2019, a lot of change and uncertainty has fallen over the world and that has altered the feeling and sentiment of this song for me now. What began as a cyclonic relationship has shifted into the turbulent uncertain times we find ourselves coping with in the past couple of years. I feel like the relationship has become a metaphor for this crazy time we are living in right now. I’d like to think that is conveyed to people when they’re listening to the song and that amongst the chaos and rubble they find some hope and resolution. In retrospect, I can see how the most difficult and heart-wrenching moments we encounter brings positive change and growth alongside it.
Some things I love about the recording process and Cyclone in particular is the art of finding the sounds that represent not just the lyrics but more the feel and emotion of the song. Lush ambient reverse delays which add a push and pull feel, like the swirling winds of a storm, carried with the undertone of the organ and bass lines of the incredible Roy Martinez.
“Breakdown To Breakthrough”
The title track of the EP ‘Breakdown To Breakthrough’ was written during the first wave of the country going into lockdown. A song that came to me in a time of self-reflection, when the world appeared to stand still. Realising that the most significant times of change have come when everything around you falls apart. When you’ve hit rock bottom and there’s nowhere left to go other than picking yourself up and moving on. Usually with a newfound sense of purpose. My favourite part of this song is when the band kick in with full power at the beginning of the second verse. I realise that collectively these songs share a common thread of stories that ultimately come down to ‘breakthrough’ moments, so it seemed fitting that this become the title of the EP.
“It’s Not Easy To Let Go”
This song acknowledges the stories of our ancestors that are passed on through our bloodlines. It’s not the lightest of topics to sing about, breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma. I wanted it to be told in a compassionate way and have the music support the emotion, having instruments like the pedal steel and organ gentle carrying through. The bridge of the song needed to represent the strength and ownership of breaking the cycle. Daine Spowart on the drums brought his power to that section which reflects the vision I had for this story.
I really like the journey this song took from concept to recording. It’s about the layers of armour we feel we need to put around ourselves to feel protected, rather than allowing ourselves to be open and vulnerable. I had wanted to keep Armour a little stripped back and still create enough dynamic to draw in the listener. The piano part which was an afterthought of Dave’s ended up forming a strong intro to the song which gave space for the vocals to really be heard. I feel like all the subtle sounds, the underlying synth and percussion tie the song together and the dirty slide guitar builds intensity into the bridge while Roy Martinez’s tasty bass cradles all the bottom end. The studio for me is equally daunting as it is exciting, watching the song take form and knowing when it’s a finished product.
“You Can’t Undo Anything”
This song gives advice to an adolescent on a destructive path, although the guidance could be shared to any of us. To think about our actions as there is always a flow-on effect whether it be a positive or a negative one. It’s another track that shares both gentle and firm delivery. The synchronicity of pedal steel and slide guitar solo’s (thanks to the amazing skills of Dave Mann) devise strength and build on the song’s reaffirming bridge about taking responsibility.
Fri 1st Oct | Froth Craft, Exmouth
Sun 3rd Oct | Whalebone Brewing, Exmouth
Fri 8th – Sun10th Oct | Nanga Music Festival, Dwellingup
Fri 15th Oct | House Concert, Bridgetown
Sun 17th Oct | The River, Margaret River
Sun 24th Oct | Freo Arts Centre, Fremantle
Sun 31st Oct | Duke of George, Fremantle
Header image of Tanya Ransom credit: Allya Dubs