Damien Leith’s musical odyssey has been nothing short of extraordinary, one which has played out before the eyes of a captivated nation. The Irish-born troubadour’s career went stratospheric when he appeared on, and subsequently won, the 2006 edition of Australian Idol. Along the way, Leith’s touching songs have captured millions of hearts and multiple platinum awards.
The singer-songwriter’s journey continues with the new album, Remember June, his third studio set and his strongest to date. The album embodies a maturing Leith, its rich textures of sound not light-years from the world-beating output of Keane and Coldplay. “This definitely feels like I’m slowly becoming the musician I’d like to be,” he muses.
Previous albums Where We Land and the covers set Catch the Wind established Leith as one of the finest vocalists in the land. But in his own words, “This is probably the only one that really feels like a ‘me’ record.”
With producer Stuart Crichton [Kylie Minogue, Pet Shop Boys, Delta] bringing his considerable clout to the new recordings, Remember June has a resounding international quality. It’s full of highpoints from the crisp, radio-friendly track “To Get To You,” and the haunting “Forgive, Forget.” Leith’s trademark falsetto shines through in “Wouldn’t Change a Thing,” and there’s the punching, piano-driven “Golden Line.”
It’s been six years since he left his homeland, but Leith is feeling right at home in Australia. And it shows in his music, which has grown up and matured quite like this happily married, father-of-two. It’s a body of work whose underlying theme studies the highs and lows of life. But its not a ballad album, Damien stresses. “This album is not as personal as I’ve done before. It’s deep in some places, but it’s not necessarily lifted from my own life. Some of the songs definitely came from other influences.”
This time, Leith has drawn deep from the well of conceptual albums, the likes of which David Bowie and The Who would be proud. “I’ve always liked the big-sounding albums, with cool middle-eights, big choruses and big changes. Definitely with this album, I’ve managed to get certainly an element of that.”
Remember June is Damien plugged-in and on song. His vocals are as beautiful as ever, but there’s a tougher edge this time around. “Stuart really pushed me to sing hard. In the back of our minds was The Killers meets Roy Orbison. It kept coming back time and time again, to go for the bigger notes. On this album I wanted a lot of heaviness.”
Leith had written the bulk of the album but formed an amazing writing collaboration with Crichton; a winning formula. Crichton had originally come on board to assist writing “Forgive, Forget,” one of the standout tracks on the album. However, when Crichton headed back to his native Scotland, Leith immediately realised he couldn’t let this one get away. So he reached out, and reeled-back his collaborator. “It was a total laugh working with him,” notes Leith, “But he’s a nutcase behind it all. He’s got an intensive crazy side about him, and I suppose he wouldn’t be as good as he is if he didn’t. When people say ‘get a good producer,’ they’re talking about Stuart Crichton.”
In the process of writing and recording the album, Leith was simultaneously working on his upcoming novel, due to be released in early 2010. A follow-up to the artist's 'One More Time', there are parallels between the songs on Remember June and the themes of the novel. 'It's sometimes difficult to separate yourself from the two forms of writing,' explains Damien. 'I might write a strong or emotional chapter in the book and later that evening, subconsciously, write a song of a similar theme - it's so easy to get attached to your characters.'
On Remember June, Leith has mixed all the right ingredients with more than enough care and attention to take another tilt at success.
Damien Leith travels from Victoria Australia