Album Review: Sally Seltmann – Hey Daydreamer
Sally Seltmann has had a criminally underrated, stellar career up to now. Perhaps because she prefers to be a loner when it comes to the writing and production of her music. However, for her fourth solo album Hey Daydreamer, she has woken up to the idea of allowing a little help from someone close to home.
For the uninitiated, Sally commenced her solo career back in 2000, under the nom de plume New Buffalo. In 2004, she released her debut album The Last Beautiful Day, an effort she wrote, played, mixed and produced on her lonesome. She continued to display her calming keys, delicate voice and lyrical prowess on second album Somewhere, Anywhere in 2007, cementing a consistency in her song writing within the impressive one-woman-show. Unbeknownst to most, she also co-wrote Feist’s massive top 10 hit 1234, before releasing her third solo offering – and first under her real name – Heart That’s Pounding in 2010, and forming the Aussie indie trio Seeker Lover Keeper. Before all this however, she provided vocals on a track for electro heroes and sample savants The Avalanches, and eventually married founding member Darren Seltmann, who has brought his co-production talents to her latest record on the solo tip.
Hey Daydreamer gets off to a plucky, string-ey, horn-ey start with the opening and title track, with Seltmann’s airy voice pivotal in creating an appropriately dreamy, otherworldly space. Billy is an oddly upbeat breakup song, introducing piano-accordion sounds and synth layering, the childish name also contrasted by the strong closing line “I need you to feel like a man”. The Small Hotel starts out like a more traditional acoustic tune, before getting a little saxy. The album begins to take on a fairytale feel, with the slight country vibe to Needle in the Hay feeling like it was written for The Wizard of Oz.
Sally continues to throw up juxtapositions in her instrumentation, with Dear Mr Heartless exhibiting her excellent lyric writing, with the themes again a contrast to the joyous tone. Right Back Where I Started From picks up on the fairytale feel with plenty of harp, leading into gusts of wind on the Catch of the Day intro, before it cuts to a more tropical feel with African percussion and steel drums. Seed of Doubt floats along on the back of a glockenspiel, pretty piano chords and weightless vocals, while Holly Drive is evocative of her work with Seeker Lover Keeper with a bounding piano intro and a horn section giving the chorus a cutesy lift. The final track States and Spaces ends the album on possibly it’s most positive note, a reminiscing love song closing out with the words “I’ll never regret falling in love with you”.
Sally manages to create various sceneries throughout the album, with flourishing melodies on a number of instruments surrounding her gorgeous voice. The fantasy it creates seems to be in disparity with the intelligent yet mostly pessimistic viewpoint of the lyrics. Sally has stated that raising her first child lead her to writing these songs about “fear and guilt and doubt”. This same experience, however, has helped her realise that she no longer has to do it all on her own, allowing the family unit to extend into her music life, particularly with the help of her musician husband.