Matt Corby, Tash Sultana
Talk It Out
The track, Talk It Out, is available via:
10th July, 2019
Communion Group Ltd
I am going slightly off the usual track…
and am looking at two artists rather than the one – the amazing Matt Corby and Tash Sultana. Before I come to their song, Talk It Out, I wanted to look at collaborations and why there are too many right now but, inside all of the collaborations, there are some really good and well-judged ones. I will discuss songs that sort of define the summer and whether singles still have the same clout as singles; multi-instrumentalists and artists that go beyond songwriting and expectations; Australian artists and, again, why we need to look that way; how music can elevate the mood and stick in the mind – I will end by seeing where Corby and Sultana will go now. I will talk about collaborations more later on but, at the moment, I will briefly talk about it. It seems like there are endless hook-ups and you get these songs crammed with guests. It seems like every week there are dozens of these songs that are loaded with people but do not really focus and have any sort of purpose. I guess including any more than one other artist to your song can get complex and I do wonder whether there is much of a point. Think about the best songs of this year so far and can you say that any of them have featured other artists? Look back through history and the best collaborations seem to be duets. It is that perfect measure where you can play off of someone else without crowding a song. It is a problem of the modern age where artists rely on Spotify playlists and streaming figures; collaborating with various artists can boost their figures and there is more marketing than there is actually quality. I get tired of these songs that have three or four (or more) names on them and you wonder who these artists are and what they are actually contributing to the blend. I am not saying every collaboration is unwieldy but I do gravitate more towards songs that are a little leaner and have that one voice leading.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Johnson/LNWY
Saying that, when you get a partnership that is just right, it can be a wonderful thing. Think of all the great duets through time and you just stay in the mind and memory – from Elton John and Kiki Dee (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart) through to David Bowie and Queen (Under Pressure). I think a great duet relies on an understanding and friendship. If you have artists included that are just there for the ride, it can be a bit obvious and it sounds pretty unnatural. In my opinion, Matt Corby and Tash Sultana’s partnership seems like a very natural and solid one. The two are friends and they have a mutual respect. Both, as I shall explore, are talented musicians and great Australian stars of the future. It is a shame that there are not more duets and this sort of thing in music because the scene is still dominated by pointless collaborations. Even when it is a solo artist and they have one other person in the mix, you often wonder what the point is and how much stronger the song would have been if they had left that person out – I am thinking about Eve’s new single and how Konshens (whoever he is) doesn’t add much and, indeed, Eve could have made the song better with only her voice on it. It is a shame many artists feel they need to pack so much in and bring lots of other voices to their music. If you have this well-judged collaboration then it transcends music itself and has an almost spiritual quality; almost like lovers conversing. Matt Corby and Tash Sultana are different musicians away from this new track but, when together, it just sounds right and assured. You know both of them are giving it their all and there are no extraneous bodies in the mix. So much sound and colour is projected between the two of them and I hope they both work together in the future.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dara Munnis
Every year seems to be defined by albums and, when we think of singles, not as many stand out in the mind. By that, I mean the press give more attention to albums and I am a bigger fan of the album compared to singles. If you get a great track, it is a wonderful experience but I will forget about it soon enough. Compare that to a solid and varied album and that sensation lasts a lot longer. I do love the fact that we still have singles in the modern age and that will never go away. I am listening to Michael Kiwanuka and Tom Misch’s Money (another great duet) that is a perfect summer single. It has a nice Disco flavour to it and is a brilliant standalone track. I wonder whether the two will record more songs for an album or whether each artist has a new album coming up. This one-off single provides intrigue and tantalisation and, with Corby and Sultana, we have a terrific song that makes me wonder whether both are gearing up for new albums. Although we do not have physical singles anymore, I feel like they are vital to music and we need to review the way the charts are set up. I do feel like there is too much dominance of Pop and we do not hear a lot from those artists who produce singles that have little commercial zeal. Artists like Matt Corby and Tash Sultana, in my view, are stronger artists than the type you see high up the charts and it seems unfair that a great single like Talk It Out gains comparatively little focus. I know one can buy singles on vinyl but I am disappointed we do not have that chance to go to record shops and buy tracks anymore because, not only would it generate more money for artists, but it is nice having that physical product. I do feel like albums are overlooked in this time and many people are more reliant on singles.
Radio stations play artists’ singles and there is not a lot of time spent exploring album tracks. The market still is reliant on promoting these singles and, when it comes to the full album; do we still have that same love? That might sound bleak for the album but I do not think so. Sales are still pretty healthy and a fantastic album is a hard thing to beat. There have been so many singles out this year and, across radio and streaming platforms, certain ones have stood out. As I said a bit earlier, most singles I hear stay in the brain for a bit then disappear but, when it comes to the bond of Matt Corby and Tash Sultana, that will be harder to get rid of. It all goes back to what I was saying about collaborations and how a real pure one creates that chemistry. If both artists were to lazily get into the studio and go through the motions, the song would suffer. As it is, we have this wonderful song that is a strong and extraordinary thing in its own right. I do love singles but when you get a cracker like Talk It Out it makes me curious whether an album will follow. The partnership between Corby and Sultana is rock-solid so I would definitely like to see the two of them record more songs together. I like when artists step away from their solo work and work with another artist; sort of like when David Byrne and St. Vincent worked on an album together, Love This Giant. I shall move on now but I wonder whether Corby and Sultana have plans to work on more material and whether they can replicate what they have created on Talk It Out. The single was a track that Corby has originally penned for his album, Rainbow Valley, but he felt that it was unfinished and needs someone else’s touch on it. Corby plays every instrument on the song except for the guitar chops, which are provided by Sultana.
I will talk more about Matt Corby in a bit but, before then, I wanted to discuss Tash Sultana. Many people might not be aware of her work but the stunning Australian is one of the most impressive artists around right now. She is a musical wonder who can master any instrument you throw at her. This article from early in the year talks about Sultana’s musical expertise and how she has battled problems to get where she is right now:
“Fluent in over a dozen different instruments, Tash has mastered the saxophone, bass, guitar, flute, and trumpet—and those are just a few! They take these diverse musical sounds and delicately ropes and intertwines into their music. This creates a distinct, layered and full sound. They now are a twenty-one-year-old sensation, touring their sophomore album, Flow State, worldwide.
At the meek age of seventeen, Tash fell into the claws of drug psychosis, in which they could not pull them self from a psychotic state back into reality. This psychosis lasted for nine months; nine months of not being able to understand if they were living in real life, dead, or trapped in some sort of illusion.
“I lost the complete purpose of life,” Tash said.
Music was the only thing that finally put Tash’s mind to rest and jolted them awake from the state of psychosis. When they would play and write music, all the induced chaos in their head melted away as seamlessly as the notes that fluttered off their guitar strings.
Tash has also been honest about mental illness, opening up about the exhaust that came with touring. Dark thoughts would enter their head while on the road, latch on, and could not be shaken. Tash admits that this frightened them, however they rested on the fact that the shadows in their mind would only be temporary. Tash remains an advocate for mental illness, encouraging those affected to speak out and not be afraid to seek help.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dara Munnis
Tash’s new album Flow State consists of thirteen songs. This work indulges in a cocktail of psychedelic pop with reggae undertones. They often lead with a slightly distorted electric guitar melody, layering that with drums, bass, vocal harmonies, and even the occasional beatboxing. During live performances, Tash is the only person to inhabit the stage, lighting it up with a full sound resembling that of a whole band. They do this by looping their sounds using various pedals. Ultimately, Tash has complete control of their sound, standing as a one-person band, fully captivating crowds consisting of thousands of people”.
She is a wonderful artists and someone who has evolved and seems to get stronger by the album. I love the fact Sultana is this artist who can play so many instruments and this gives her music such breadth and variation. We do not often see artists as broad and talented as Tash Sultana and, when they come around, you need to hold onto them. Although Sultana is a fine musician and has immense talent, it is Corby who takes the instrumental lead on Talk It Out. Both artists have incredible skills and they can pretty much go anywhere musically. I look at solo artists and bands and it is very rare seeing someone who can play a few instruments. So many solo artists are reliant on others and it does depress slightly. I am not saying every artist needs to learn several instruments but it would be nice to see more artists spread their wings and pick up instruments. I have been a fan of Corby for a while and been following his music closely. His early material gained comparisons with Jeff Buckley but I think Corby has expanded and broadened since then. He is a wonderful artist whose lyrics and music is as strong as his playing. He is a complete talent who, like Sultana, is someone we need to follow closely. I do think we need to encourage more artists to pick up instruments rather than rely on technology or limit themselves.
PHOTO CREDIT: Aaron Crossman
Before I come on to my point regarding Australia and music in general, it seems that both artists are pretty busy right now. I believe Matt Corby was due to perform at the Citadel Festival today in London but has had to pull out because of ill health. It is a shame but Corby is an artist always in-demand and he will be back on the trail as soon as he is better. The same is true of Sultana who, as this recent piece explains, is right in the middle of some dates:
“Tash is in the middle of a busy summer that includes a flurry of European festival dates and a few weeks back home in Australia, before they embark on a US tour. And in the midst of all this all they’ve still managed to find the time to release new music, in the form of Matt Corby collaboration, ‘Talk It Out’.
“He just sent me this song that he didn’t put on his album, and gave it to me to fill in the spaces. And I thought he was fucking crazy for not putting that song on his album, as I thought that was the best song that I’d heard,” Tash explains.
Writing ‘Talk It Out’ was a fairly smooth process, as the two artists worked so well together. “We collaborate very well together because we’re very very similar as people, different as artists, but similar as people,” Tash said. “I’ve done some other collabs with different people that are a little bit more challenging. Especially as I don’t have a producer, and if you work with another artist who has a producer, then it’s a really odd change – which is normal, and a good thing.”
And it came at exactly the write time, as Tash had been struggling to write new material. “I needed it because I had full on writer’s block, and I wasn’t writing shit and I was hating the stuff I’d written. I was hating the show I was playing as I was stuck. But now I’m fucking loving it! I’m loving all the shows I’m playing, I’m loving all the stuff that I’m writing, I’m loving the song we did, and I’m proud of it”.
I should really move on to Talk It Out and get down to some reviewing but I want to talk about Australia and how it is a nation still overlooked. I have been amazed by the rise of Melbourne-based Sampa the Great and, whilst she was not born in Australia, she is based in Melbourne and it is clear the city runs through her blood. I just spoke with Gabriella Cilmi, who was born in Melbourne, and she explained how there are so many great Australian acts that we do not really look at and explore. I guess the media is still pretty focused on the U.K. and U.S. and, in fact, when it comes to Irish, Welsh and Scottish artists, they are not given as much focus as acts from England. This needs to change and I think this is especially true when it comes to Australia. The country is vast and, from Hobart and Adelaide through to Sydney, there are so many wonderful musicians. Corby hails from Sydney whereas Sultana comes from Melbourne. These two huge cities have spawned a load of legends through the years and it seems like Australia is a real hotbed for new talent. Although Corby and Sultana travel a lot and tour the world, both call Australia home and they would be the first to argue for Australia and its artists. I recommend people explore Australian music more and have a look at the terrific acts around at the moment. The bliss and quality of Matt Corby and Tash Sultana is just the tip of the iceberg and I think Australian artists deserve as much coverage as artists from the U.S. and U.K. I will look at Talk It Out in a second but I want to end by explaining how a song like this can elevate the mood. I do think music has the power to change emotions and lift moods; it can take you somewhere special and do something quite extraordinary.
I feel like a particularly great song can stay with you for a long time and release its spirit into the mind when needed – whether you need something happy, sad or a bit angry. In the case of Matt Corby and Tash Sultana’s new track, it is a pearl that explodes with colour and emotions and it will definitely remain with you. If you need to feel better or want a song you can dive into, you need to listen to Talk It Out. Wonderful music is all around us but I think there are relatively few songs that endure and have that multidimensional effect. Maybe it is the musicianship of Corby and Sultana or the chemistry between the two but I guarantee you will want to listen to Talk It Out again and again. We all need music to make us feel better and give us a sense of comfort. One definitely gets that here and it sort of renews my appreciation of music. It does make me wonder, again, whether the two will work together on anything else because they are a natural duo. I shall get to the song itself because, away from all the talk and words, you really need to experience Talk It Out. It boasts two of Australia’s most popular and exceptional young artists.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dara Munnis
Talk It Out wastes no time in getting off to the races. There are horns working in the background and this electronic fizz and chorus that give the song such boldness and energy. It is a sunny and bold opening that welcomes in sunshine and energy and, when Corby comes to the microphone, he talks about him and his lover have this space between them and there seems to be this distance. They keep so much under the covers and the bed acts as the setting for the opening scene. I am not sure what compelled the song and whether it was based on a personal relationship Corby experienced. Although his voice is not stressed and angry, there is a detectable note of regret and longing that comes through. It seems like he and his sweetheart are on different pages and they just need to talk out their differences. As Corby sings about separation and this need to recalibrate things, the music gives this sumptuous cool and blast that summons soon and something delightful. The horns are an inspired touch and there is so much going on in the background. Corby’s soulful voice talks of complicating the matter and making things worse. They need to talk things out and, when Sultana comes into the mix, she adds her tones with wonder and confidence. The two voices blend together really nicely and Sultana, although her instrumental duties are lighter than usual, gives this great vocal that explains how the two were in love and could not see things clearly. It almost makes me wonder if, actually, Corby and Sultana are talking about different relationships or they are referring to the same one. She talks about giving her all and (the lover) not having to beg, steal or borrow. Talk It Out gives Corby a verse and then Sultana; Corby then comes back in. It acts like a conversation where both are explaining their stances and do not need to talk over one another.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Johnson/LNWY
The two never argue and lob insults at one another. Instead, there is this open and frank discussion when they reveal how things have been hard and it seems like they need to sit down and have a chat. It is rare to get a song that deals with division that allows compromise and the two parties to get everything out into the open. As the song progresses, you get this beautiful sense of harmony and the fact that they might reconcile. I do love the combination of voices and the fact Sultana and Corby add something different. They both have exceptional voices but I think they are at their strongest when they sort of weave in and out of one another. They unite in the chorus and you get this very real rush that makes the hairs stand on end. You get this brilliant Neo-Soul/Jazz sound that lets the instruments strike and utter but you get something separate from the vocals. There is so much life and personality on offer that you need a couple of spins before the song resonates and sinks in. I have listened to the tracks a few times now and every spin gives me something new. I think Matt Corby and Tash Sultana is an inspired combination and they are beautiful together. Talk It Out will reflect in the hearts of anyone who has gone through a relationship drama or just needs to re-establish communication. It is a very stirring song but one where there is ample passion and understanding. That is what makes it so strong and appealing. Rather than tear stripes off of one another, the two are on the same level and want to work through things. The beats crackle, the guitar adds strut and energy and the brass gives the song a caramel-smooth taste that is hard to ignore. It is a wonderful song and I do hope that both artists work together again very soon.
I think Matt Corby is getting some much-needed rest right now but his Rainbow Valley touring schedule will continue and I think that actually takes him into 2020. If you have not heard his Rainbow Valley album then do so - and the same goes for Tash Sultana’s Flow State. I love both artists and, after releasing these great albums, they are busy touring and bringing their music to the world. I do hope they get to share a stage together and perform Talk It Out but, given the popularity of both, they might be busy with other gigs in various parts of the world. I do feel Australia is expert when it comes to giving us these unique and multi-talented artists. Maybe it is something to do with the culture there or the people; maybe it is something in the air but one cannot overlook all the brilliant music coming from Australia. I have explored Tash Sultana a lot but I know full well how brilliant Matt Corby is and why you need to seek him out. Before wrapping up, then, I want to bring in an interview Matt Corby gave earlier in the year with London in Stereo. I have highlighted a couple of questions that stood out.
“Was there a specific moment when you knew that you wanted to become a musician?
I always knew from 5 years old, everyone was always asking me to sing when I was growing up. I remember when I was in year 2 and my music teacher asked everyone to clap in rhythm, and I was seeing some kids and they just couldn’t grasp basic rhythm, so I go up to my music teacher and say that I could sing and stuff, and she takes me straight away to the Principals office, and I sang for the principal.
This is a day that I’ll always remember because the principal stitched me up hardcore, so we have assembly that day and I just remember the Principal saying we have someone who is going to sing for us today, and I was thinking surely this isn’t me. But it was at that point, where I really had no fear, I got up and sang in front of the whole school- and from then I was known as the ‘Singer Kid’ and I was just right there branded with it I was kind of doomed.
So, you previously spent a lot of time in London?
I used to spend a lot of time going back and forth, doing a few month stints here and I met a lot of the crew from Communion (Record Label), when they were first starting up and met Matt Haggardy the guy from Matthew and the Atlas, they asked us to be the first signing. It was nice to immerse myself in a new little scene and have no preconceived ideas following me around and playing to neutral scene…like jeez London fuck me, London crowds are tough. You really have to work for it, and you really have to earn your stripes here”.
It is clear that, when it comes to earning his stripes over here, Matt Corby has our ear and he has a huge fanbase around the world. The same is true of Tash Sultana: both artists are incredible and you can expect them to record music for many more years to come. On their collaboration, they have crafted something different to their solo work. Talk It Out is one of the best singles of the year and, having gained such positive feedback, it makes me wonder when Matt Corby and Tash Sultana…
WILL work together again.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Dara Munnis
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