Singer-songwriter Tom West released his new album, Antarctica, on Friday. The album, produced by Allen Tate in Brooklyn, was written following the death of West’s father from motor neurone disease.
It is the culmination of a three year journey around America; touring, couch surfing, and playing as much as possible. That was until a Husky attack and the onset of COVID-19 in the US threw his plans in disarray and precipitated a return to Australia.
Originally planned as a four track EP, Antarctica expanded dramatically, and now boasts a wider collection of songs, most of which are derived from personal experiences, and written during West’s years of traveling and touring.
Who better then to take us through the album’s eleven tracks, than West himself. So settle in, press play, and have a read through the inspirations and stories behind the album.
“If This Is Longing”
This is a song I wrote early in my adventures pounding the pavement in the USA. It is a song that came out the intersection between feeling fairly homesick and simultaneously yearning for bigger broader horizons.
I put this song together after some useful feedback: try and keep things simple, for performing live as a soloist. You can’t get much simpler than a love song, so that’s what this is. Having said that, I couldn’t help but go a little deeper, so I’m reflecting a bit on that way that, I think, our, or societies, expectations of what love is doesn’t always align to our lived experience..
“Stuck On Repeat”
I wanted to try and make something that spoke to the frustration that the generations of people coming up through the world now have. We’re living in a hyper connected, technological, wealthy world yet it seems’ like it’s as hard as it ever has to get a house, to pay the rent and to find fulfilment.
“A Folk Singer From Outer Space”
I was in the dumps for a while after things were going wrong. The icing on the cake was feeling really put down and deflated after a situation with another musician. Everything felt so ridiculous:Ii was back on Earth while everyone else was flying away.
“Rain On Havana”
I went to Cuba for a while with the intention to spend some time writing songs. The songs ended up pretty hard to come by, but I did drink a lot of rum. Sitting in my apartment on Calle St Nicolas in Havana on a rainy afternoon I did get this one out.
This is a song about a time when I went to the beach with my old man before he died.
Even though it feels like a lifetime ago now, I wrote this one at a time when I was reflecting on the experience of people leaving their home or family behind in pursuit of a better life.
I think we live in a world where there’s almost an expectation that we push ourselves really hard in whatever we’re doing. Keeping up with everything when your body or mind starts lagging behind is super tough.
“Nowhere To Go”
When I worked as a bartender for a short period of time there was a regular customer who would always come around and talk about the time he lived in Brooklyn, he was a great guy for a chat. I have guilt about not perhaps not doing more when he fell on tough times.
This is a song about suddenly finding that your buddy has gone somewhere that you can’t yet go. You have to adjust to familiar things now looking very different.
While travelling so much, the idea of ‘home’ got confused at times.
Header Image: Isabella Cuan.