For any songwriter or performer, maintaining one's integrity is not always so easy in the world of commercial
pop music. Especially when you are classically trained in violin and piano, you have a love for old-school soul and R&B and you work primarily in an Australian market dominated by rock and pop. "The reason I make music is like anyone else, because I love the process of writing a song; of working with my band and performing my music live. I wanted my new album to be a true representation of me, to tell a story and hopefully show any growth as a person & musician I may have made since the first album".
For Jade MacRae, to take the next step from critical acclaim and awards that her debut album received, certain compromises and changes were required to evoke a new direction musically that would satisfy herself, her fans and the dreaded yet often crucial ‘commercial interests’. The result is Jade's new album - Get Me Home.
"Taking into account what you think other people want you to write can be a mistake that can ruin an artist. Ultimately however I do think my subconscious was probably affected somewhat by the very fact that I did not reach as many people as I hoped when making my first album, and I started to write an album that I guess maintained my soulful roots, but moved more into the fluid world of electronica and commercial pop".
Jade’s debut album opened doors in the US and Europe, allowing Jade to work with songwriters and producers who have written hits for many major international recording artists. "Working with such professional, creative and musically sound people was amazing. You automatically raise your game. I felt relaxed because I knew the people around me were great at what they do. Sometimes you only get a day to work with someone, so the pressure to produce is high. You need to feel comfortable".
Feeling at ease and relaxed has not always been so easy for the diminutive beauty. The once very shy girl with low self-esteem faced many long-time personal insecurities and fears by placing herself in the public eye so often. A homebody at heart, Jade is happiest cooking for her friends and relaxing and having a laugh over a glass of wine. The rigours of constant travel, promoting a record, corporate gigs, charity gigs, touring, TV appearances, never wearing the same dress twice, being in a constant state of 'beautiful' etc all changed Jade’s life immeasurably. Personal expectations and public scrutiny combined to make Jade’s life extremely stressful and some tough professional and personal changes needed to be made, and were.
But you won’t hear Jade making any excuses. "I would not swap my career for anyone's. I hate hearing sob stories from people in the entertainment industry about how tough they have it. But anyone who thinks doing what I do is overly glamorous is just plain wrong. I do this because I love making and performing music, not because I want to see some magazine comment on what designer dress I have borrowed for an event or the latest happenings in my personal life. I want people to discover my music and hopefully fall in love with it".
And fall in love they will. Get Me Home is a perfect mix of what makes Jade so unique; her soulful tone, her lyrical content and her distinctive phrasing, combined with the production values that rival any in the world today. Through her songs such as Low, Trouble and the highly anticipated new single I Wanna Be In Love Jade has managed to keep her musical integrity intact to deliver a truly incredible follow-up album.
"Writing an album has been compared to having a baby – I’m not sure about that. But the feelings surrounding the release of any album are similar. You pour a lot of time, energy and a lot of yourself into an album. This is not an album of three singles and a bunch of filler songs. Each song on the album had to really fight for it’s place, and I am really proud of the results".
As the album looks primarily at relationships and love, the subject matter could on the surface look typical of a 'not quite ready to settle down' young woman. However such a take on this album would be incorrect. It is through these broader themes that Jade is able to look into the darker and lighter shades with lyrics also examining betrayal, lust, depression, domestic violence, flirtation and communication breakdown.
Asking Jade to separate fact from fiction in this album is met with a pirate grin. "One of the great things about songwriting is the therapy involved with telling a story or releasing emotions that you are feeling. Most of what I write is based on my experiences or the experiences of those close to me. Low is a song about being betrayed by the one you love, and the pain and confusion that goes along with that - I think everyone can relate to this in some sense - in this case its about your partner cheating on you with your best friend, and her ending up pregnant with his child. 'You're Gone' is one of the most emotional songs from the album. It can be really painful when your partner is afraid to communicate and becomes withdrawn. You end up feeling alienated and alone, and these were the feelings I was trying to capture. But I am naturally reticent to divulge exactly what is fact from fiction when these are things very personal to me and those around me".
The album also contains a lighter, fun side that is more in tune with the real everyday Jade MacRae. Under the Sheets was inspired by 'lazy summer afternoons spent with a lover under crisp white sheets', and In the Basement, Get Me Home and Shine Like A Diamond add thumping beats and a club chic attitude that initially brought Jade to prominence with her hit So Hot Right Now in 2006. "I was fortunate enough to write with Warryn Campbell on my first album. When I heard that he was keen to work together again on this album …to say I was excited would be a huge understatement. When I arrived Dr Dre was in the studio working on a new act that he was producing. Working with Warryn was enough of a buzz, but add the presence of Dre to the equation and I was on such a high. It really made me feel a part of something big. The track is one of my favourites to perform live as Warryn put down some awesome live drums, keys and backing vocals and it really comes alive with my band".
Jade's peers also recently recognized her. Jade won a prestigious 2008 APRA Award for Best Urban Release for her first single In The Basement in June. "I wrote In The Basement on a whirlwind writing trip to Sweden in early 2007. I was lucky enough to work with Arnthor Birgsson, one of the incredible writers from Max Martin’s famous Maratone Studios in Stockholm. We had one day together. He had a huge collection of vintage synths and we ended up with a banging electro club track".
The title track of the album is Get Me Home, and as the name suggests it is symbolic of the journey that has taken Jade from Sydney’s northern beaches all the way around the world and back. "It was an amazing experience and I found it particularly interesting writing lyrics with writers whose first language was not English. Of all the songs written for this album, the title track Get Me Home was written when I was feeling particularly isolated in Stockholm. Get Me Home is essentially a song about losing your way, losing your centre of gravity, your sense of Self, and the journey to get back to your true essence. When I heard the fully produced version of the song by J Skub from Melbourne I really felt that I had once again found my musical centre and found my way home".