There has always been something mesmerising about Australian singer/songwriter Daniel Johns. After 8 years of what some describe as ‘silence’, we saw Johns return to the music scene earlier this year with his Aerial Love EP, and as expected it had the public talking. Daniel has learnt to understand that for every person who accepts his stylistic changes, there will be others who tear him down, but he’s made it clear that he doesn’t care what people think; his debut solo album is called Talk, and people will do just that as they explore Johns’ new soulful endeavours laden with urban beats and a touch of RnB.
Daniel called in Joel Little (Lorde, Broods) to make some magic, and that he did with the single Aerial Love, it’s the track that first took curious listeners by surprise; what was once a voice that roared out a rock tune is now a soulful and falsetto croon. Writer/producer Louis School had a hand in laying down We Are Golden, Daniel’s way of telling his story without strictly following the beat is applaudable, its drumbeat doesn’t falter and allows for every other soundscape involved to have their moment. Julian Hamilton co-wrote By Your Side, the first track thus far to have an explosive chorus to enable the meaningful lyrics to be carried further; the spaced out lines in Preach allow us to take in every word, which is very important with this album, the intensity of the vocals in the chorus is amazing and gives you chills. Too Many is a song of desperation, it is one of the most intriguingly written and recorded tracks on the album and may take two or three listens to adjust to; in contrast, Dissolve is the closest to chart pop you’ll get, which isn’t a bad thing at all because we are treated to Daniel’s own take on modern pop, his breathy vocal sets the atmosphere which is filled to the brim with subtle synths and a steady beat.
The most simplistic song since the beginning is Imagination, once again Johns’ vocal has many a personality as he continues to demonstrate his versatility and immense range. Joel Little’s handy work continues with Cool On Fire giving it an airy vibe in its verse and an edgy chorus, Chained has a similar feel except its chorus is more reliant on its beat and commendable vocals; Sleepwalker is a more laid back number, the smooth arrangement allows time for thought. Faithless (produced by Styalz and M-Phazes) picks up the pace again with some luscious strings erupting in the background and a consistent beat, continuing the deep and meaningful album concept. We delve into the world of Joel once again with Warm Hands, this track is like a Daniel Johns-meets-Lorde number with its vocal production; Going On 16 presents a more darker sound for the album. There were moments in New York where you though the track was going to be explosive, but it remembers itself and remains tame until its final moments; there’s something theatric about the vocal arrangement of Good Luck, the falsetto in this number is almost too much to handle, it becomes a bit of a ramble until the song ends on a climactic note.
If you are a fan of Silverchair, please don’t listen to Talk by Daniel Johns and expect a spin-off. As an artist Daniel has always had capabilities out of reach by the average musician, he has a seemingly limitless vocal range and he knows exactly what to do with his pipes. There were many who were left unsure after listening to his Aerial Love EP, by releasing it a few months before Talk he achieved what he set out to do; people felt inclined to listen, they formed their opinions and they talked, only for Daniel to release exactly what he wanted no matter who would think against this new direction. After years with Silverchair releasing grunge and pop/rock, it would have been extremely simple to stigmatise his abilities, but he’s blown himself out of the water with Talk; Daniel Johns may be beyond recognition, but he’s in a good place.