John Rowe: Life, Interrupted
The world slows, a dull silence descends, and the music of John Rowe takes on far greater significance.
The Australian singer-songwriter has always crafted his music with the literary approach of a storyteller. His songs are deeply personal and always resounding with emotion; his stories explore all of life’s experiences through themes that are universal to all humans – life, love, and death.
It’s this cycle of life, with all the ebbs and flows it entails, that forms the creative drive behind his latest album ‘Gifting The Proletariat’, released in 2018. At a time when life itself seems to have faltered, if not halted, an album more than two years old seems more relevant than ever.
“It’s about the cycle of life at the end of the day and it has all those elements in it,” John explains about the album.
“It’s a love-death-injustice kind of record, and all of those themes come through at the right time, if you know what I mean, in the running order of that record.”
Within John’s songwriting, imbued with all the rich colour and detail of a lucid dream, listeners inevitably find a part of themselves.
“A lot of it is drawn from personal experience but a lot of it also is imagery, like the imagery that surrounds circumstance.”
“I don’t want to sound too convoluted or anything but that’s really what the basic premise of it was. I’m very interested in what makes other songwriters tick, what their themes are and how they project their feelings from situational stuff and what’s going on around them.
“And a lot of my stuff is based on life experience and things that have happened to me personally but I tend to put it in a broader sense so that it communicates to people the point I’m trying to get across – it becomes more universal.”
It’s put to John that ‘Gifting The Proletariat’ is by far his best work yet, and he agrees, saying that a lot more planning and thought went into this recording than previous ones.
“You sort of live in demo land for a lot of the time when you’re a writer,” he says.
“Demos are pretty much all you can afford, and it comes out rushed, not thought-out, not planned properly. But this had a lot of planning go into it and it took a lot of time to get around to recording this record, and we had our challenges with that as well.”
It’s a shame, perhaps even an injustice, John is not considered more highly in the canon of great Australian singer-songwriters. His music innately encapsulates the spirit of what it means for everyday people to live and survive in this country.
An album that traces the life cycle is an apt addition to John’s discography at this stage of his career and something that offers him the opportunity to reflect and reconcile.
“These are the things I’ve seen over this period of time and at the end of it, this is really about me if you like, without sounding like that’s a vanity thing,” he explains.
“It’s just the way the cycle turns around, you bring it back to yourself and how you see yourself and what’s happened in your life, so to speak. It’s a bit of a prayer, you know.”