Essential Advent Calendar: Guy Sebastian Releases Album ‘Conscious’

Not a Christmas album, but door 3 on our Essential Advent Calendar this year opens on Australian artist Guy Sebastian, and his 8th full length studio album, ‘Conscious’, set for release on December 8 through Sony.

If the only thing you know about Guy Sebastian is that he represented Australia in their Eurovision debut in Vienna 2015 (he came fifth overall), then that should be enough for you to realise how siginificant an artist he is in that country. Winning Australian Idol back in 2003 with a very impressive afro and thankfully an even more impressive voice, Sebastian has gone from strength to strength, and is now recognised as one of the most enduring and successful male artists in Austalia.He’s had more than 40 platinum releases, 3 million sales in his first decade: still this isn’t enough for Sebastian, who in speaking of ‘Conscious’, his 8th full length studio album (he’s also released 3 EPs and a compilation album), said,

“This has probably been the most laborious process,” he explains. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard on anything as I have on this. And just to make something I’m really proud of but also something that’s mature.”

About to turn 35, Sebastian’s done a lot of growing up both personally and musically, and it shows in this album, which has many very personal themes woven into it, such as his struggle with taking time away from his wife Jules, and their young sons, Hudson and Archie, aged 5 and 3 respectively.

“It’s just an added thing you’ve got to try to balance. And at the end of the day it is a sacrifice. Doing this for a job and being away a lot – I saw it with my own father, he was a geologist so he’d be away for a month, home for a month, away for a month, for our whole lives,” he says. “You learn to live without them and you learn to be OK without them, and that’s the thing that scares me so much.”

‘Conscious’ is a milestone album for Sebastian. Recorded in his home studio, which allowed him to spend time with his family while still immersing himself in making it, he found himself taking his previous pop sound into uncharted territory – funk, electronica, and soul are very much present in the album, as wel as the pop-laden hooks.

With 12 tracks, the album opens up with the very upbeat, ‘High On Me’, a compelling dance track with Sebastian’s strong falsetto vocals at the forefront, reminding us of Bruno Mars, and also taking us back to the sound of the Eurovision stage, which is a brilliant move and should sit well with his European audience. Second song, ‘Bloodstone’ is more emotive and sombre, but nonetheless maintains a catchy hook and compelling chorus. ‘Set In Stone’ starts off gently, carrying on with the slower tempo of ‘Bloodstone’, and the soft piano the perfect accompaniment for the lyrics, a love letter to his wife Jules, which was written in light of a shocking tragedy he witnessed in Bali:

“Nothing could break us apart
Unshakeable
Yeah, no matter where I am or where I go
We’re set in stone.”

‘Conscious’ is a very real album, and there’s a reason for that. Not wanting a “perfect” album, Sebastian went for full takes rather than pursue “perfect” parts with many vocal takes.

“I didn’t really want that on this record. I wanted it to feel a bit more real.”

His close relationship with Jules is examined throughout the album, and with ‘Exclusive’ he touches on the topics of infidelity and betrayal.

“I know that you’re desperate not to lose this
You’ve given me the best of your excuses
Thought I was yours and you were mine
I gave you all of me ’cause I believed you
When you said we were exclusive
Oh, you said I was the only one
Oh, you said I was the only one
Thought I was yours and you were mine
I gave you all of me ’cause I believed you
When you said we were exclusive”

‘Conscious’ is raw, evocative, and powerful. Sebastian’s experience shines through, his self-assuredness and confidence in his own gifts are evident in every song. He’s also been around long enough to know who to choose when it comes to collaborators: working with him on this album were Gold Coast producer, M-Phazes, known for work with Daniel Johns; John Hume, the frontman for Evermore; 23 year old songwriting prodigy, Sarah Aarons, who wrote ‘Stay’ for Alessia Cara and Zed, beats producer MXXWLL, US writer Trey Campbell, and fellow Sydneysider, writer and producer Sam Sakr. Together the crew brought to ‘Conscious’ the touches it needed, while at the same time inspiring Guy to push it even more:

“My driving force is always the power music,” says Guy. “Music is a hugely powerful medium, and I’ve been given the keys to deliver it. And through my music, the amount of people who are affected by it – the amount of letters that I get, the amount of social media messages I get, with people saying, ‘That song really helped me through this,’ or, ‘It really picked me up while I was going through this and that.’ It’s really made me realise the importance and the responsibility that I have – and it’s been a massive driving force for me to keep going.”

‘Conscious’ is available now to stream on Spotify and Apple Music, with downloads available in the UK from December 8.

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