There are certain writers who command moving melodies and lyrics in equal measure. Dave Wells is one of those supreme talents, and has quickly garnered a word-of mouth reputation as one of the Hunter's finest songwriters and performers.
His impressive 2014 debut EP, Carrington Street, a heartfelt rumination on life growing up in Maitland, suggested a master craftsman, a writer adept in penning songs that creep up on you and cut deep.
Now here is 2018, Dave Wells releases his long awaited self titled debut record.
The leading singles 'Run Free' and 'Picasso's Cloud' indicate that the powerful vocalist has crafted a mesmerising collection for this highly anticipated debut release.
Inspired by new beginnings and influenced by some of Wells’ favourite albums, such as Urban Hymns by The Verve and Kim Churchill’s Silence/Win, 'Run Free' is the first track from his forthcoming ten track self-titled debut LP set for release next month.
Accompanied by a clip filmed in the pristine bushland serenity of the Barrington Tops’ foothills in Salisbury NSW, the kinetic camera work captures the haunting restless duality of the track, with Wells barefoot in a fusion of nature and domestic living space.
In his own words: “Run Free is a call-to-arms for anyone boarded between four walls, allowing time to slip through their fingers. Whether it be physically, spiritually or creatively, the message of ‘Run Free’ is crystal clear – take a chance.”
‘Run Free’ marks the first taste of an honest, down-to-earth album based around the universal themes of lust and freedom. An album where moral boundaries, human desire and self-preservation nestle alongside the cause and effects of love, jealousy and loss. Simultaneously intense and progressive, Wells' self-titled LP announces the sonic maturation of one our nation's finest indie-folk and alt-rock talents. Watch this space for a lot more Dave Wells to come.
NEWCASTLE HERALD - 11th August 2018
The Herald Sessions: Dave Wells talks music and the launch of his new album
Rightly or wrongly, in a capitalist society our job often defines who we are in the eyes of others.
Four years ago Maitland’s Dave Wells found himself on the employment scrapheap. The purchasing officer was made redundant, a victim of the mining downturn.
“Those who have experienced redundancy or loss of their job out of their control, it’s quite a life-turning experience,” Wells says.
“You find yourself spun out of this social cog. You get so used to turning over and going to work every day and all the sudden your routine in your life is upside down and you don’t know where it’s going to go.
“It was very competitive and I had a lot of trouble finding work at the time. I just decided maybe it’s a career change.”
Music was the silver lining of Wells’ redundancy. Rather than wallow in self-pity, he focused on his love of music and set in motion the wheels which eventually rolled towards recording his self-titled debut album, which was released on Friday.
“At that time music was plan B, and now music is plan A,” he says. “In some respect, that’s what Run Free is about because I started writing Run Free around that time.”
Run Free was the first single off the album last year, a folk-rock call to arms about following your dreams.
“It was about rightyo, maybe you should put something you love first and make that plan A and not worry too much about the consequences and have a go of something of that nature, opposed to always going with the safe bet,” Wells says.
Music wasn’t completely new to the 37-year-old. Wells first began playing drums as a teenager, banging beats to ’90s bands Green Day and Radiohead.
At that time music was plan B, and now music is plan A.
From there he discovered his soaring voice - which sits between Vance Joy, Jeff Buckley and Augie March’s Glenn Richards – by singing along to Crowded House’s 1988 album Temple Of The Low Men.
“I remember as a kid driving everyone crazy singing along to Temple Of The Low Men, which isn’t a bad album to have on repeat in any household,” he says.
In the 2000s Wells fronted indie-rock band Sketching Cato, who released two promising EPs before breaking up in 2009.
Around the same time Wells’ father died and he retreated away from the stage for several years.
“I found myself back in the lounge room writing songs but not performing or doing anything,” Wells says. “It was a bummer of a time, but not that I regret it, it was a learning curve.”
That learning curve resulted in five-track solo EP Carrington Street in 2014, which was named after the flood-prone neighbourhood in Maitland where Wells was raised.
The warm response locally towards Carrington Street lured Wells back to performing, but shortly after he was made redundant and was unemployed for 12 months.
During that time Wells studied primary school teaching at university and worked odd jobs at Dashville for good friend and fellow musician Matt Johnston.
These days Wells is a teacher’s aid at Maitland Public School and also plays guitar in the Dashville Progress Society and fellow Dashville band Baghead.
Work began 18 months ago on Wells’ self-titled debut.
When Weekender met with Wells following his performance at the 2017 Gum Ball music festival he and Newcastle producer Robbie Long, of Funky Lizard Studios, almost had the record complete. So they thought.
A combination of Wells’ perfectionist nature and a series of personal obstacles – which included the death of his grandmother from Alzheimer’s disease and a loved one’s mental health battle – meant the album’s journey to completion became more complicated.
On reflection, Wells says the road bumps have given the album greater meaning.
“I’ve learnt so much through the whole recording process,” he says. “I’ve learn a lot as a person.
“I’ve learnt a lot about mental health and being a songwriter and that transition of being a songwriter into a recording artist.”
The crowning moment of the album is the second single Picasso’s Cloud. The song was inspired by Portrait of Dora Maar, a painting of one of Pablo Picasso’s secret lovers.
Wells, who comes from a visual arts background, saw the painting at a Picasso exhibition in Sydney and quickly began writing his own tale of infidelity.
“Picasso’s Cloud was written from the perspective of how one feels when they are suddenly left behind for someone else,” he says.
“Not so much the helpless, sadness or hurt, rather one’s own battle to express and concur the frustration, jealously and spitefulness that is infused with a vindictive anger towards someone who can so easily move on with contentment.”
Elsewhere, Wells continues his exploration of lust, freedom and moral boundaries on the melancholic ballads Falling Out Of Love and The Curse, the one song written on the banjo, rather than his favoured acoustic guitar.
Social realism, as he describes it, is another lyrical fascination on tracks like Cruel Little World.
“We all immerse ourselves in current affairs and international news and it’s more prominent than it’s ever been and I just questioned what is it we switch off from and say, ‘OK, I’ve going to get my lunch ready and go to work now’,” he says.
“It pushes those moral boundaries and asked if there is more I can do rather than just receive this information. Do I have to be reactive all the time, or can I be proactive?”
While it’s taken 37 years for Wells to realise his dream of releasing a debut album, he promises the sequel will be a more timely affair.
“I’m really looking forward to the next one and I’ve already written a swag of songs for the next album,” he says.
Pre-Order the debut album here
The album will be released August 31, signed and sent when they land in the Dashville office.
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