With a bag full of new tracks that resonate and crackle with energy as they swirl out of your speakers, renowned singer-songwriter Heath Cullen is back
Recorded in Los Angeles, Springtime in the Heart is the Candelo musician's fourth record, with five years having passed since his last offering, the critically-acclaimed Outsiders.
"I didn't mean it to take so long, but it did!" Cullen said.
"I had this idea to work with my friend [three-time Grammy-winning] Joe Henry as producer, and Joe is a busy man on the other side of the Pacific, so it was a bit of juggling to make that work.
"When we had a date Joe was diagnosed with cancer, in late 2018. Thankfully he pulled through and is in remission now."
Incredibly, Cullen recorded the 10 tracks on the album in three days, with what he described as a very talented team of musicians.
But this is the speed he likes to work, to catch the magic of spontaneity that comes from playing together.
"It can take months to make a record, but if what you're trying to do is catch the essence of a song and magic of ideas as they are discovered and come to the players, then I like to work fast," he said.
"Some of the songs on this record are the first or second takes.
"What we are doing in a studio is having a conversation. The more times you play that song the more chances you have of that conversation sounding scripted.
"I've made records in two days before; three days is a luxury!"
Even more amazing, once you hear the intricacies and layers within the album's songs, is that the band did not rehearse any of the material.
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The writing process was that Cullen sent the band members demos a week before they met up and each player would write out their own skeleton of the song, but the demos did not contain any instructions and were just him and his guitar.
"It was a matter of everyone being on the same page and trusting one another," he said.
Cullen does not write music with a concept or preconceived idea of what he is writing about, he says he just writes songs.
But there did seem to be a common theme in the songs for Springtime in the Heart.
"When I stood these songs in a line, there seems to me to be a thread of hope, an optimistic outlook," he said.
It has been a turbulent year so far for Cullen, having to endure the Black Summer bushfire season including the fires that came close to Candelo, before COVID-19 restrictions prevented him and other musicians all over the country from performing gigs and making a living.
He has embraced Patreon as a means of supporting himself, which has a direct artist and audience subscription model that he described as "fantastic", and he is nearing 100 subscribers.
But once the pandemic is over and restrictions have eased, Cullen plans to start performing again - with the first show to be a local album launch in the Candelo Town Hall.
"It's been a pretty steep curve, but I'm just hanging on," he said.
"No-one knows how long it's going to take, but I hope to be on the road, singing these songs I've just released sometime this year.
"It may not happen, I don't know. I'm just taking it a day at a time."
To purchase Springtime in the Heart visit Cullen's website by clicking here.
It is available now via digital download, with CD and vinyl editions to be released in May that can be pre-ordered.