Nick Batterham’s ‘Lovebirds’ features a soaring chamber orchestra and ethereal vocals

Nick Batterham’s ‘Lovebirds’ features a soaring chamber orchestra and ethereal vocals

Photo Credit Ursula Woods
Words by Laurence Adorni-Dickson

Batterham's sixth album is a thing of beauty.

The creative mind behind Blindside, Cordrazine and The Earthmen, Nick Batterham has just releasedLovebirds’, his sixth solo studio album. Featuring a soaring chamber orchestra and melancholic ballads, ‘Lovebirdsis a testament to Batterham’s songwriting prowess. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to the album twice through now and figured I’d share a few opening thoughts.

It’s clear that Battherham has taken queues from his earlier collaboration with street artist Rone, whom he composed the original score for their exhibition at Geelong Gallery. The score features an intimate string ensemble paired with soft piano that creates a decidedly soft yet cinematic mood. Batterham has made a feature of his orchestration skills and hit the ground running for ‘Lovebirds’, expanding into a full chamber orchestra complete with strings, woodwinds and horns. ‘Lovebirdsfeels grand and personal.

Turbulence is a great opener, showcasing much of what the album has to offer right from the start. It’s upbeat, with a great hook and catchy feel. There’s a real sense of momentum as the track builds and builds upon itself, incorporating more layered instrumentation and Batterham’s ethereal harmonies as each chorus rolls by. There’s some great compositional work here, with interesting chord movements and incredibly satisfying resolutions. The nods to Bowie’s Space Oddity don’t go unnoticed here, and give Turbulence a fun bit of character.

Thirty Four is a decidedly more intimate revisiting of one of Bannerham’s earliest pieces, honing in on his vocals and placing the newly added string ensemble at centre stage. At moments the electric guitar truly soars, giving wonderful melancholic depth and scale to the track. The whole song flows like water and is just so easy to get lost in.

For fans of Battherham’s first solo album ‘Strip for Cash’, The Bright Side of Me might feel like a surprising return to form. Extremely distinct from the rest of the album, The Bright Side of Me features a poppy beat, catchy lyrics and a groovy bassline. This one leans heavily into the pop rock of Batterham’s past and offers a fun reprieve from the deliberately slower pace of ‘Lovebirds’.

In stark contrast, Follow the River is cinematic, grandiose and moving. It also happens to be my favourite track on the album. Clocking in at almost six minutes, Follow the River feels like an epic, the soaring crescendo of the entire album. Batterham pulls no stops here, as the track constantly sweeps dynamically between the intimacy of soft piano, saxophone and guitar and grandeur of the fully voiced chamber orchestra, accompanying percussion and Kelly Day’s vocal accompaniment which blends beautifully with Batterham’s. I listened to this one on repeat a few times after my two full listen throughs of ‘Lovebirds’ and each time I found something new to appreciate. Follow the River is Nick Batterham at his best.

‘Lovebirds’ is a pleasure to listen to and a wonderful addition to Nick Batterham’s expansive discography. I’d like to give a quick shout out to all the wonderful collaborators who worked on the album as well. Their talents really shine through and elevate the album to something truly great! You can find the full credits list here.

‘Lovebirds’ is out today! Be sure to listen on Spotify or purchase the album on Bandcamp!