Close to 25 years since he first kicked off a musical career as frontman for The Sleepy Jackson, musical visionary Luke Steele is going it alone for his debut solo album, Listen to The Water.
Set for release on May 13th, the forthcoming album sees Steele turning the page for a new chapter of his musical career – a career that also includes the likes of global chart success with Empire of The Sun, and enigmatic collaborations with longtime friend Daniel Johns as DREAMS.
“I’m taking you on a journey to myself,” explains Steele. “This solo record was a chance for me to be naked, fearless and on my own. That was confronting.
“There was salvation and sadness, dreams and nightmares, heroes and villains,” he adds. “Strange changes, epiphanies, miracles and madness.”
The result of this is a body of work that is genre-defying yet atmospheric, wise yet innocent, and ultimately, Steele at his finest. Pairing acoustic instrumentation with pedal steel guitar, and nuanced percussion, Steele’s own vocals sit atop it all, showcasing a sense of vulnerability we’ve not seen from him before.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the record’s first single, “Common Man”, which sets the heartfelt tone of human frailty seen throughout the record thanks to its stellar instrumentation and powerful lyrics.
“‘Common Man’ is about the underdog,” Steele explains. “The working class, forever hustling but sometimes it gets too much. Finding a place of rest is unpredictable, it comes in waves. But the triumph is born from that struggle and you’ll see the glory within all the moments and tests.”
Meanwhile, the single also comes accompanied by a music video, directed by wife and longtime collaborator, Jodi Steele, and helps to contextualise the song and dives deeper into the meaning of what it means to be the “Common Man”.
“This song is about existing between beauty and torment, mentally and emotionally,” Jodi explains. “Being the common man but not part of the conformity. As your endurance is tested your character is forming.
“Visually the video was shot at the height of snow fall here at the Eccentric Farm where we had the opportunity to shoot in such a pristine and alien environment. Luke cuts a dark figure, a black shadow against the stark white backdrop. Light and dark elements co-existing, not unlike what lives within us all.”
While Listen to The Water first began to take shape in 2019, it was not without difficulties. Insect infestations, faulty household appliances, and the onset of a global pandemic saw Steele feeling as though he “was being summoned elsewhere”. Moving to the Eccentric Farm, a six acre property in Northern California, Luke and Jodi found themselves in the midst of a new adventure that soon found itself captured in music by way of this new record.
“The record is a story, a moment swimming in my head,” Steele explains. “A memory captured in music.”
“I have hard-wired myself to be in a constant state of ever-grow,” he concludes. “I will never be satisfied. You don’t make a record for no one to hear. I want people to be captivated by it. In a way it’s a life story. You want them to hear the mistakes, the wisdom, the failure but also the glory.”
Luke Steele’s “Common Man” is out now, while debut album, Listen to The Water, will be released on May 13th, with pre-orders available now.