Renée Geyer’s past is Australian music history. A precocious jazz, blues and soul singer in her late teens; Countdown royalty in her 20s; a string of pop, soul and reggae hits spaning the ’70s and ’80s; her LA years with Stevie Wonder, Sting and Joe Cocker; her ’90s renaissance with Paul Kelly…
‘Tonight’ is Renee Geyer’s 21st album. The coming-of-age implications are not lost on her. She sang a fond farewell to the classic soul standards of her youth on ’03’s ‘tenderland’, her most successful album in years. Now that she has our attention again, ‘Tonight’ is the first record of the rest of her life.
“This is me exposed,” says Australia’s greatest soul singer. “I knew I could make a record like ‘tenderland’ anytime I liked. I knew I could make it work and it worked. I don’t mind revisiting the past but I’m not interested in living in it. I was ready to bust out.”
You can read all about it in books, you know – not least her own, Confessions of a Difficult Woman, published in 2000. So much for the past, then.
‘Tonight’ is an instant Renée Geyer classic, and simultaneously the most radical record of her 33-year recording career. It claims new ground for a voice that’s as familiar as home but capable of going anywhere it pleases. Think Dusty Springfield and the Pet Shop Boys. Think Tammy Wynette and the KLF. Think Shirley Bassey and the Propellerheads. Then think again, because this is Renée Geyer, and you know who’s in charge from her first breath.
“I made this record cause I’m attracted to this music and this style of working,” she says. “It’s fun to sing, it’s what I like, so I have to embrace it. It’s not like it’s that bizarre, but it’s new ground for me. If I can’t do it at this age, I never will.”