For those fans of growing Melbourne artist BATTS, the news of an album release was a quiet relief. The Grand Tour, draped in the magic of the stars, portrays the singer-songwriter as an artist and person, creating a wonderful fusion album that evokes her powerful storytelling in different ways.
As a concept, BATTS’ The Grand Tour offers so much more than what we see or hear on the surface of the album. While giving us a glimpse into the life of BATTS herself over the course of the encompassing forty minutes, we are also joined by the perpetual notion of both Voyager crafts’ lonely journeys through our solar system. The album is best enjoyed as a start to finish singular experience, but individual songs still hold up, each displaying BATTS’ honest songwriting style which sees a piece of her transformed through each track.
Recordings from the Voyager launch crews split the album, both introducing it and creating an interim that refocuses the concept behind the album; not only are you listening to some of BATTS’ best recording work so far, but The Grand Tour helps you learn a little something along the way, and connects you as you listen to BATTS’ experience.
You can get somewhat lost in BATTS’ vocal work through The Grand Tour as her voice, often imbued with a simmering nostalgia has continued its growth from her EP 62 Moons (2017). And yet, The Grand Tour manages to fold through another level of emotionality that clearly cracks in tracks such as “Shame” and “Gun”, both single releases leading up to the album launch. “Shame” makes an especially important impact, and cuts through the irony of us trying to escape the Earth. BATTS’ seems to think the same, with the chorus lead in “It’s funny how we think we’d be better off/If we took off and started somewhere new.”
The Grand Tour really comes to a head towards the close of the album, with new tracks, “Folding Chairs”, “Dark Heart” and “Waste Of My Time”. “Folding Chairs” and “Dark Heart” especially stand out, with both recordings bringing out the darker qualities of Batts’ voice, and highlighting her poetic, yet realistic lyric writing. Her songwriting really strikes a chord in “Dark Heart”, with a blunt honesty that fits well with the floating rhythms of the darker, brooding instrumental piano. This skillful lyricism is something BATTS’ has been cultivating since her EP, with the meaning behind the lyrics always being an important gesture amongst her work.
Spending hours pouring back over the album, trying to pick up where the audio from the Voyager recordings has been used is another, unexpected, facet of fun. It’s something unique to BATTS’ and her sound, as you journey through not only the characters and stories contained within her songs, you are also invited to be part of the Voyager journeys too.
But, of course, this the tour alongside the Voyager crafts is only a single aspect of this amazingly multifaceted piece, and this newest release is a testament to her raw songwriting capabilities, creating a truly unique experience.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Grand Tour is released today.