What happens when you blend 60s folk with 30s jazz, add a former foreign correspondent turned folk singer with a gift for storytelling, and the genius of Melbourne record producer J. Walker? The answer is Sunshine Coast local Ange Takats’ sophomore album Arva.
With three-part vocal harmonies, lush string arrangements and ragtime jazz instrumentation, the 11-track album is a departure from the former Q Song award winner’s folkie roots.
“Strangely enough it was Joni Mitchell who led me to 1930s jazz. I read an article in which Joni spoke about being greatly influenced by the work of Billie Holiday,” Ange explained.
“I bought a Holiday album and fell in love – not only with her achingly honest voice but also with the charm of the era. I went on to discover the Boswell Sisters and began playing around with backing vocal ideas for some of my songs.”
To help her weave a nostalgic thread through her second album, Ange travelled to Victoria to team up with award-winning composer and producer J. Walker (Machine Translations) who recorded and produced Paul Kelly’s recently released album Spring And Fall.
“He’d just finished composing the music for the ABC TV series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries which is set in the 1920s, so he was in the perfect ‘oldie world’ headspace to work on my songs,” Ange said.
“We recorded most of the vocals in an old town hall in Gippsland. A few weeks later he was in the same hall, recording Paul Kelly’s album.”
Walker recorded, produced, mixed and laid down most of the instrumental tracks on the album – playing double bass, piano accordion, violin, cello, piano, vibraphone, dulcimer, banjo and percussion.
He also gently nudged Ange outside of her comfort zone with some challenging backing vocal arrangements on tracks like Infatuation, which was released as a single in late 2012.
“We did most of the harmonies on the run in the studio. He was playing these crazy jazz notes on the piano and asking me to mimic them with my voice, which was no easy feat,” Ange said.
Ange has had an unusual journey into the world of music – beginning her career ten years ago in Bangkok where she worked as a foreign correspondent during the day and folk singer at night. She released her debut album, Aniseed Tea, in 2009 and has spent the past few years performing at music festivals and venues across the country. Ange is also a favourite at the hugely popular Peregian Originals.
She will launch her new album at the Majestic Theatre in Pomona on Saturday 16 February where she’ll be joined by a three-piece old-time band featuring Steve Cook on banjo/mandolin, Caroline Trengove on violin/backing vocals and Tim Finnigan on double bass – as well as Sahara Beck as the opening act.
The album is being supported by a RADF grant from the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and Queensland Arts and it is already receiving high praise from international music critics:
“Ange’s soulful voice evokes the joy of the Andrews Sisters one minute and the melancholia of Billie Holiday the next. Her confident delivery doesn’t impede the roller coaster ride that is this album – and the listener is rewarded by hugging closely to her around every hairpin turn.” – Kenny Weissberg, Music Without Boundaries, San Diego.
What: Ange Takats album launch (Ange with band + Sahara Beck as support)
Where: Majestic Theatre Pomona, 3 Factory Street, Pomona
When: Saturday 16 February at 7.45pm
Tickets: $28 online/ $33 at the door www.redchair.com.au