Clea Is Journeying Down The Correct Path

Clea's new album is titled 'Idle Light'.
David James Young is a music writer and podcaster, working in Wollongong on Dharawal land.

The saying goes that you shouldn't bring your work home with you.

Fine in theory, but the grey area is a little wider for Clea Pratt and Alistar Richardson.

The married couple live on a property in Scenic Rim, regional Queensland, where they largely co-wrote and produced Pratt's two solo albums under the mononymous moniker Clea (say it like clay). "Ali's dad owns this property," she explains over Zoom, gesturing to the house.

"We've been coming here for the last six years, but we started permanently moving out here last year. We've added a kitchen, and really made it feel like a home."

Clea also notes that she and Richardson have literally been able to build degrees of separation between their musical career and their home life.

"The property is about 100 acres, and there's a cottage house on it where we've slowly been renovating a new studio over the hill from here," she explains.

"The space we have is so big, so we've never felt like we were enclosed or we were restricting ourselves while we were making music here."

That fact is just as well, given Pratt's new album 'Idle Light' is such a far-reaching, widescreen pop record. Arriving nearly five years after her debut album, 2018's 'Vermilion', Pratt is quick to compare and contrast the different stages of her life within which each record was completed.

"I was in my early 20s when we made the first album, so this album was started in the middle of them and finished as I was edging towards the end of them," she says.

"There's been so much transformation in that time, and the concept of the album is really coming to terms with it – and the inevitable crises that follow.

"I'm 27 now, and I feel like around this age you really start that journey of really looking at what you're doing with your life. You find yourself really breaking down a lot of the barriers you've built up for yourself, and you start to have a bit more wisdom and understanding.

"Everything that's happened has meant to happen, and I am on the right path – no matter how difficult it may have seemed. It's terrifying, but it's also beautiful."

'Idle Light' takes its title from 'Listen Up', the opening song on the album. Across a swell of harp, reverberating keys and a steady, slow-motion drum beat, Pratt sings in a lower register: "You seem to know a lot about my past life/ A flash of gold, it's got to be the idle light."

Despite the album already having a working title of 'Life Before The Moon', she eventually became transfixed on the second-verse lyric. "It really stuck with me," she says.

"An idle light is a light that doesn't change, but is always there. It's up to you to find it, even if it seems too hard and you pretend it's not there. Over time, it really felt like the right title to really tie up the whole album."

Pratt will soon return to the stage in support of 'Idle Light', with an appearance at Sunshine Coast music festival Sunshine Sounds this coming September.

Having already performed several singles from the album in the live setting, including the hazy '80s pop homage 'I Wanna Be Alive' and the glassy synth ballad 'Easy To Forgive', Clea is looking forward to exploring the live sounds of the rest of the album with her band in tow.

"I'm excited to keep honing in on my performance abilities, and the emotions I'm trying to convey," she says. "I really want to make seeing me a live a separate experience to just listening to my music. I'm really locked in with this band, too.

"I've noticed a lot recently that live pop shows are really taking away the live elements like drums and bass – not us. I want to lean into the ebbs and flows of it all a bit more. It gives you way more dynamics, and way more room to move. We want to create a real energy when we're playing live together."

'Idle Light' is available digitally and on vinyl. Clea plays Sunshine Sounds Festival at Eumundi School Of Arts Hall (Sunshine Coast), which runs 2-3 September. The event is part of 2023 Horizon Festival.

Sunshine Sounds Festival 2023 Line-up

Elixir with Michael Leunig
Katie Noonan and string quartet
Abby Dobson (Leonardo's Bride)
Deline Briscoe
Sue Ray
Cigány Weaver
Fred Leone
Louise King
Sugarbag Blonde
Mark Moroney
Frank and Louis
Layla Barnett
Eumundi School Of Music Band
Sunshine Sounds Community Choir
Craft Workshops
Gubbi Gubbi Welcome To Country

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