Sara Storer always did feel good when it rained. Still does. That’s natural: she grew up on a wheat farm in Victoria and has been close to the land in one way or another ever since. She lives on a small rural property outside of Albury in New South Wales with husband Dave and their four young sons.
“I just have a thing for the rain, I love it,’’ she says. “When it’s raining I feel motivated, I have this energy. I think it’s even stronger in me than anyone else in the family.’’ Which is saying something when her three brothers are farmers.
So it’s no surprise that the rain, searching for it, longing for it, the renewal it brings, features so prominently in the songs on Storer’s sixth studio album, Silos.
Storer is one of Australia’s most-loved singer-songwriters, a multiple Golden Guitar winner whose crisp observations of the Australian landscape and its people provide the solid foundation stone for her music. She has seen all the beauty, joy and heartbreak this land can bring, living for a time in western Queensland, where she wrote her first song, and working as a schoolteacher in Katherine in the Northern Territory.
“I think I write at my best when I say it as I see it or feel it. If I sing about the rain on the roof it’s because we live in a little old farmhouse with a tin roof. You smell the rain coming, hear it on the roof. And I have to write that because it is the truth for me. Don’t hang around me when I’m writing a song, you will get a mention.”
Family is paramount to Storer and that is another cornerstone of Silos, whether it is I Wonder Joe, written when her youngest song Joe was a two-month-old asleep beside her, or collaborations with her brother Greg, who is both farmer and songwriter.
The one song on Silos that Sara didn’t have a hand in writing is Greg’s Here We Go Again, which perfectly frames the highs and lows of life on the land. The album’s opening track, My Diamond, is a tribute to Greg and Sara’s father with a duet vocal performance from Greg.
“My Diamond represents my songwriting in so many ways, waiting about someone who is close to me, with contributions from all my siblings about dad. When it’s real the song already has all the colours, the emotions, the story line. Dad taught us to love each other for who we are and to look out for each other. I love having my big brother sing it with me. We’re such a close family and it’s a perfect way to start the album.’’
Images of Australia burn through Silos with all the clarity of an outback sunset, from Purple Cockies, with inspiration courtesy of John Williamson, whose latest album features a song inspired by Sara, to Amazing Night, about a night around the campfire, or Dandelions, where Sara sings about the “weather pulling on my heart like a puppet on a string.’’
And in closing there is It Don’t Mean Jack, one of the most extraordinary songs Sara has written in a catalogue now bulging with Australian classics and given a stunning musical setting in collaboration with producer Matt Fell. And yes, it’s another song about the rain.
“With Matt’s production you can hear the dry, the sadness, the storm, then after the storm, it’s like a weather map.
“Of course I love to sing about the rain because it draws so much emotion out of me. I have a soft spot for people who work on the land. I grew up with that, my family still do it, I see all the struggles and the triumphs. I know how hard they work. I love writing about those people because they are such colourful characters. But how lucky are they to get to live out in the bush?’’
Sara Storer was born to sing about real people, honest emotions, and the land she loves. She has never said it better than she does on Silos.
‘As a child John Williamson mesmerised me with his words and stories, and he still does. There is a song on his latest album about a girl who sings of cockies in a purple coloured sky, and that’s me! I thought, ‘What a beautiful thing .’ And that gave me the title. It’s a song about being happy with what you have. We’re all too busy these days to take the time to look around at what treasures you already have at home. This song reminds me to make sure I stop to watch the cockies in the purple sky.’
‘The song is about someone close to me and their relationship with their father, who now has Alzheimer’s. The sad thing is that they are at a stage in life when they could have the time to talk and be really close but they can’t. Never leave things too late.’
‘I would love to say it’s a love gone wrong song but it’s not about that at all. Sometimes songs come to you in ways I don’t understand but I go with it, and I put my heart and soul into this song.’
Mascara & Song
‘What a special thing to write and record this with Clare O’Meara. It came from a night with a bottle of red and a lot of laughs, and wait until you hear her give it her all with her fiddle solo.’
‘We all go through stages in life where we are a little bit down about something. That was me being torn between being a busy mum and losing sight of my music, I could see it fading into the distance, and then making the decision to do something about it. My wonderful husband would talk me though it to get me inspired again.’
Noel Mengel March 2016