“Calm, Inclusive, & Warm”: Ziggy Alberts Shines on Fifth Album ‘searching for freedom’

Ziggy Alberts © Janneke Storm
Ziggy Alberts © Janneke Storm

Mitch's Take

10 Music Quality
9 Production
9 Lyricism
10 Memorability
8 Sonic Diversity
9 Content Originality
8 Arranging
9
Ziggy Alberts turns his visceral inward focus out on society and the world at large in ‘searching for freedom’, a record whose powerful messages of sustainability, peace, justice, and understanding are sure to resonate with all who listen.
Stream: “Together” – Ziggy Alberts




Australia’s Ziggy Alberts has always imbued his art with a special aura – this ineffable warm glow resonating throughout his songs – yet never before has he shined as bright or sounded as bold as he does on his fifth studio album. The coastal folk singer/songwriter turns his visceral inward focus out on society and the world at large in searching for freedom, a record whose powerful messages of sustainability, peace, justice, and understanding are sure to resonate with all who listen.

Searching for Freedom - Ziggy Alberts
Searching for Freedom – Ziggy Alberts
And I wonder why
We seem to be
More concerned with our flags
And nationalities
than we are with unity or love
More concerned with our differences
In different gods above
And out of all these books that I forgot
Drawn way too harsh in worries of what I’m not
And how this feels when it comes to
Comes to being close to you
And I will fight for this
Stand for right over wrong as
Our old trees are burning down
And I will write for this country I adore
And we can come together now
And I will stand beside you won’t let hate reside here
Lock hands together in the crowd
And we will fight for this country we adore
In hard times each of us know how
Throw fear aside regrowth can come along

Released March 19 via Commonfolk Records, searching for freedom elevates Alberts’ longtime mission of love, interspersing moments of intimacy and connection with reflections on existence, isolation, nature, and purpose. It’s a literal journey as much as it is a spiritual one – the natural next step in Alberts’ public growth as an artist, and his private development as a person.

Ziggy Alberts © Janneke Storm
Ziggy Alberts © Janneke Storm

“This album was born out of one of the strangest years of all our lives,” Alberts tells Atwood Magazine. “When all my tour plans got cancelled, I got straight into the studio and started working on this record – it includes very old stories, and very new ones. I wanted to make something that was warm and sweet and contributed to love and unity instead of fear.”

The album’s title itself is a strong nod the substance within. “It is the overarching theme of all the songs; it is what ties them together,” Alberts says. “I chose this album title because I think it is the overarching theme of both the record and human existence. I believe the pursuit of love and freedom connects everyone on the planet. This record certainly marks a new chapter in my life, and perhaps a new one in yours. searching for freedom is a journey, both literally and spiritually. This album is just a part of the greater exploration I am personally on.”

searching for freedom is a story of discovering our natural identity,” the artist adds. “This record doesn’t have a resolution on this exactly how to do that; it’s an expression of an adventure that I’ve realised will last a lifetime. It touches on environmental awareness, standing up against wrongdoing, celebrating our differences, and embodying love and hope in our day-to-day. Encouraging each other to release ourselves from fear and realise the light and love in one another. These songs were written over five years; four were written across the three seasons I spent in studio making this record. I loved this part of the process; it allowed the record to remain present and earnest. searching for freedom is a coastal folk/roots singalong record, lovingly made at Yamanui Studio with Paulie Bromley on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. It is rich and sweet in tonality, honest and vulnerable in delivery.”

While he went into this record with a certain vision in mind, Alberts kept things fluid and flexible; as a result, the music changed over time as his songs and the album as a whole took on a life of their own. “Several songs I was sure would be on this record didn’t make it, and I wrote three or four of the songs during the making the album,” he notes. “What didn’t change was the goal to make a record that was very warm and sweet – we definitely achieved that. I find a lot of music production today is very bright, very sharp and sonically lacks sweetness because of the perspective that everything has to be crazy loud in order to be good.”

Ziggy Alberts © Zach Sanders
Ziggy Alberts © Zach Sanders

The resulting record is one that breathes with a life of its own: One whose stirring sentiments are captured as much by the artist’s words as through his overall shining performance.

Lyrics and subject matter aside, searching for freedom also represents an important musical transformation for Ziggy Alberts, who has steadily been moving away from the classic troubadour-with-an-acoustic-guitar image. 2018’s expansive Laps Around the Sun incorporated a full band and multiple piano ballads, and searching for freedom further expands on that – all while staying true to the artist. Pre-release singles “heartbeat” and “letting go” teased some of the album’s brightest highlights, combining earnest lyrics with unnervingly catchy melodies to great effect. In premiering the latter song this past January, Atwood Magazine praised it as an intimate and tender release: “The Australian artist shines with an inner light on his radiant new single… “letting go” is yet another stripping down of the soul, as its very name suggests. The song finds Alberts shedding all pretense in an upheaval of inner tension – an act which inevitably leads to a warm and welcome cathartic release.

From the beautifully tranquil “keeper” and the uplifting call-to-action “together,” to the earnest upheaval “circus” and the utter vulnerability of show-stopping closer “searching for freedom,” Alberts spellbinds on songs that fill the room with light, color, and effervescent energy. searching for freedom showcases the artist’s breadth as he soars through stunningly impassioned anthems, dwells in the smoldering depths of heartfelt ballads, and everything in-between.

“Full credit to Paulie Bromley and OJ Newcomb,” Alberts says, referencing the multi-instrumentalists who helped him give searching for freedom its sonic flavor and textures. “I think the bass lines are very intricate and bring a lot to each song. I would also say there are a lot of harmonies, which is a very beautiful part of this record.”

As a lyrically forward artist, Alberts cites two songs as containing some of his favorite lines. “‘Can you believe that we are here still arguing about the right to choose what we put in our bodies’ from ‘Don’t Get Caught Up’, and ‘Dogs out on the streets chasing satellites‘ from ‘Feeling You,'” he notes. “I have a lot of favourite moments lyrically from this record, but these are the first two that come to mind.”

“Feeling You” is also Alberts’ personal favorite song on the record. “It was a big highlight for both myself and the producer (Paulie B) because I think it showcased some of our best work to date in one song. I would also say it is quite unique in my catalogue of music.”

Every Ziggy Alberts album has thus far managed to build upon the music that came before it, while pushing forward into new and exciting territories. searching for freedom is, for that reason, a natural evolution for the singer/songwriter, but no one could have anticipated the record’s level of introspection, subtlety, and sheer nuance.

“I hope this album helps encourage people to continue stepping out of fear and into love,” Alberts says. “I hope it encourages them to continue on their path of freedom. There is so much I’ve learnt from this process but frankly it has been such a whirlwind I haven’t reflected upon it yet. I plan to soon.”

Ziggy Alberts © Janneke Storm
Ziggy Alberts © Janneke Storm

searching for freedom presents Ziggy Alberts at his most thoughtful and his most intimate.

Those in search of catharsis, of joy, of kinship, and of a purely good time will all find what they’re looking for in the folds of a record made with deep love. We may even find some freedom of our own through these songs.

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Ziggy Alberts’ searching for freedom with Atwood Magazine as the singer/songwriter goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his dazzling fifth LP!

I hope this album helps encourage people to continue stepping out of fear and into love. I hope it encourages them to continue on their path of freedom

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:: stream/purchase searching for freedom here ::
Stream: ‘searching for freedom’ – Ziggy Alberts



:: Inside searching for freedom ::

Searching for Freedom - Ziggy Alberts

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keeper 

keeper is a song about vulnerability and dependence. Both independence and dependence have been big topics in my life. From starting an independent record label with my family to choosing sobriety during my formative touring years, I’ve always been quite self conscious about the duality of the subject.
My dad said something really cool to me one day, suggesting that we aren’t truly independent beings; we depend on trees for the oxygen we breathe, the earth for our food and water, on others for support and love. We depend on our community and we depend on each other – and this song is a celebration and admittance of the healthy things and people who to which we are truly dependent. This song talks about long distance relationships, leaning on your loved ones, and not compartmentalising love. It’s about celebrating mankind and nature.
I wrote this song in 2018 and recorded it in early 2020. I can’t remember where I wrote this song… but I do get taken back to Hamburg, Germany – staying at an Airbnb out on the edge of a forest and riding into the city from there. This track came together quite naturally. My favourite part about this song is all the harmonies, and the awesome double bass outro by Owen Newcomb. It was supposed to be an intro for the album, but instead it turned into the sister song for together.

together

together was the first song I wrote for searching for freedom, before the album was really even a concept. It  was the first time in 7 years that Paulie Bromley and I recorded together since working on my earlier record, Made Of Water. Everything happened super naturally. It was the first time I had The Dreggs on a track of mine, and the song  was written, recorded and released in a matter of weeks. I wrote the first verse for this song years ago,  perhaps as far back as 2015, and I couldn’t find the rest of the song until the last days of December in 2019 – when Australia was going through a terrible Bushfire crisis.
This song talks about unity, common ground, misjudgement, fighting for what’s right, protecting our land &  sea, resilience, regrowth, values, clean water and pushing back against tyranny. It is about freedom of speech,  our freedom to protest, about our freedom to tell the truth: our freedom to ask questions. And when my  country was on fire, people used their differences to help each other. And deep down many of our underlying  fundamental values are exactly the same – and these are the ones we are coming together to protect for our  next generations.
My favourite part of this song is the extra lyrics running underneath the bridge. It was the first time I’ve done  call and response and had multiple lyrical layers like that. it was a wonderful step forward for me in my song  writing progression and sparked the ideas I had for heartbeat.

don’t get caught up 

don’t get caught up is my way of expressing what I think is most important in this moment in time – to not let  fear create distance between each other. I think it’s easy to distance from one another for having different  views – when really, everyone’s trying to do the right thing. We should encourage each other to be asking  questions and supporting one another to have the freedom to do so
I wrote this song one evening in early 2020, feeling helpless in the face of the state of society. The two songs  that I listened to before I wrote this that same night was Black by Dave, and Latinoamerica by Calle 13. I pretty  much picked up the guitar and the lyrics poured out. So, I did what all songwriters do – express their emotions  through song in hope it might resonate with others.
The challenge in this recording process was choosing the right bass line and vibe. This song with a kick drum,  quickly becomes a dance track (haha) and we didn’t want that. Both Paulie and OJ ended up playing bass for  this song. As I recorded the vocals, I danced and smiled – I really believe the energy you bring in a recording  translates to the listener.
My favourite part about this song is the bass breakdown at the end and the shaker we added. The bass line  and vibe was Groove Armada inspired and the shaker just makes the song sway back and forth more.

letting go 

letting go is a song about letting go of fear and the notion of having to heal everything alone. We find strength  and joy in companionship on adventures, lifting each other up along the way. This song talks about a surf trip and journey across the North and South Island of New Zealand, playing small shows, camping, surfing and hiking along the way. It’s also about being able to change direction when you feel  yourself getting off course.
I have spent time busking and jamming this song with friends over the last few years, but it never made it onto  an album until now – despite being written around the same time as Runaway. I’ve grown more and more  confident over the years to not rush song releases – this record certainly seems the most fitting for this track. I wrote this song in early 2015 and started recording it in 2019. I recorded the vocals and guitar at PontoZurca  in Portugal with Sérgio Milhano, had production and extra vocals done with Garrett Kato in Byron Bay, and  finished the song with Paulie Bromley on the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
The recording process for this song came together over the space of about a year. Despite the stems being  recorded in two different studios along the way, everything fell in to place really sweetly. I think the  breakthrough moment was solidifying the piano progression; which launched us into a fantastic direction after that. What I love most about letting go is that it has quite an ‘old school Ziggy’ vibe, but it has these new mature  elements that give it a real footing on this record. My favourite part of this song is the emotiveness of the  strings in the opening and throughout the track.

heartbeat

heartbeat is a song about how love brings us together no matter how far we are apart. It started off as a  breakup song – hence the chorus – but turned into a story of hope and trust on a summer adventure,  discovering new parts of who I was along the way. The chorus and verses play off each other, talking about the  past and present, finding resolution in the common thread of all good things – love. I think the pursuit and  embodiment of love is so important.
This song takes me back to such fond memories with my friends on the road. My English friend, Nathan Ball  was touring with me at the time and we both really knew the tour we were on may never happen again. It  takes me to surfing along the Mornington Peninsula, watching Mumford and Sons play live in Melbourne, and driving in an old Kombi down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I had a lot of spiritual realisations around that  same time, so this song really embodies a lot of joy for me personally.
I wrote this song in early 2019 and started recording it in 2020 for searching for freedom. I did the song from  start to finish with Paulie Bromley on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. It is one of the few songs on the album  where all three vocal layers are done by me.
This song nearly broke us mixing it in studio. It’s really raw in the nature of the recording and that is what makes it so special, but that’s also what makes it harder to mix. Now, it’s one of my favourite recordings on the  whole record!
What I love most about heartbeat is that I stretched my range to a new place I never thought I could reach  with my chest voice. I remember the moment I first hit the note; I stepped into the recording room, clasped  my hands together, and just yelled ” love” at the top of my lungs. It’s not even singing. It’s literally yelling. It’s  also got a cool Bossa Nova style beat in the last chorus which is new for my work.

chocolate

chocolate is a song about what you want when you already have everything. I think the narrative is shifting,  but in mainstream culture we still really believe that “everything” is essentially money and fame. They can be  sources of great happiness, but I can say from personal experience these meant nothing when I was lacking in  the fundamentals. In fact, sometimes the fame made me feel lonelier than ever. This is quite a literal song, as  far as the experience, so I won’t say more on that – because the story I think speaks for itself. I think it’s always  great to share heterosexual male needs in a way that is sensitive and earnest.
I started writing this song on the 31st of December 2018, at the back of a big removal truck we hired to play  Falls Festival in Tasmania. I continued to work on this song on my tour in the summer of 2019 and recorded it  in 2020. I produced the song from start to finish with Paulie Bromley on the Sunshine Coast, Australia with a  wonderful group of musicians.
The recording, for the most part, was really straightforward. This is a really comfortable part of my vocal range,  and we were in a great flow at this point. It’s one of the most fantastic recordings on the whole album; nothing  bites. It was the first time I sang a harmony on my own song, ever.
My favourite part of this song is the way the strings, piano and banjo play together. I literally love all  components of this song.

holding you 

holding you is a song I wrote about reasoning and doubt. I basically was just struggling in a long-distance relationship with someone, in myself and in my headspace. I was burnt out. I was going through things I didn’t  even know how to tell people close to me; and you start wondering – how can I tell this person who’s supposed  to be my lover? will they still love me? will they think I’m crazy? how will they not think I’m crazy if I think I  am? If I’m struggling to talk to friends, how can I tell her how I’m feeling really down despite having everything  a person can ask for? I was just so tired and had the toughest year of touring ever, where a lot went wrong. A  lot of physical injuries along the way. Through writing this I was trying to remind myself of why I was where I  was in the first place, to make sense of it all.
I wrote this song at the end of 2017. holding you talks about friendship, intimacy, temptation, holding strong  to your core values, second thoughts, headspace, doubt, reminders, changing patterns, resilience, clarity,  realising what you are a part of and what you’ve been doing that doesn’t serve your spirit.
The recording process for this song was pretty straightforward. I knew it really well, after playing it at almost  every keyboard soundcheck for the last three years before playing Best Friend. It was kind of my warmup piano  song. I actually wrote this song six semitones higher originally; I was jamming at home and tried it in the lowest  key possible and the song took on new light. It is certainly as low as I can sing for a lead vocal, and lower than I  had ever sang for a lead vocal before. The phrase “second thoughts” I had to do a couple times. It’s the only  song on the whole record where I swear; I could have avoided it, but in the context, how else can you say  you’ve been through every single unreasonable moment of possible doubt?
My favourite part about this song is the rumble and the synth pad I played underneath the piano track. I sat by  Paulie’s side just riding the volume control back and forth, which gives it a great swelling movement through  the track. I’ve also come to love the way we autotuned the second verse vocals. The strings create such  dramatic feeling which suits the song and makes way for string heavy moments to come later in the record.

chemistry

chemistry is a song about trusting in the journey and realising what means the most to you about  companionship. I wrote this about how being deeply vulnerable with somebody can be so scary, but the  reward of love and how it makes us feel supersedes every conceivable risk of being heartbroken. Sometimes  we forget that the heart is made to heal, that we are made to heal. This doesn’t mean we should be more  careless with ourselves or others, but we should realise our ability to heal and feel stronger for it.
I wrote it also realising every “good” and “bad” decision I’ve made has led me to where I am today. And I love  where I am today. So opposed to resigning what happens to fate, this song is expressing trust in the ups and  downs; and knowing if you are being conscious in your day to day, if you are coming from a place of love, you  are headed in the right direction – regardless of how off course moments may feel.
This song talks about intimacy, seeing things for what they are, honesty, connection, feeling, disbelief,  chemistry, adoration, simple pleasures, fate, responsibility for the path we walk, embracing the story, stormy  weather, willpower, healing, how moving someone can be to you, falling and flying, surrender.
I started writing this on a piano in early 2019. I might have first discovered it singing the opening melody and  playing the piano with my right hand… somewhere in a soundcheck. I planned for this to be the piano ballad  for the album. But I was over at a friend’s house and I was jamming it with them. Paddy (The Dreggs) started  playing the same progression on guitar, and I just took on this 90’s acoustic rock feel. I loved it. This song has  so many different expressions.
The recording process for this song was rough because it had so many different ways it could be presented. It  settled where I think it’s truly supposed to be for this record; an acoustic ballad.
My favourite part about this song is all the noises in the guitar take and the counter melody. It’s one of my  favourite parts of the track – the realness of recordings that aren’t squeaky clean. I also love the counter  melody that Angela sings at the end that we’ve treated in a synth like way. It’s beautiful.

getting low 

getting low is a song about the yin and yang of human experience. Not giving into fear and never giving up  hope. Being human is super weird. We are on a planet floating in space, flying through the universe with a  burning ball of fire we rely on for life that also makes us happy and there is no roof. We are alive in the face of  death every waking moment of the day. Life and death come together as two sides of one whole. I think that  this duality is one of the most challenging things I’ve been learning to accept and celebrate. I wrote this song  as an expression of the things that made me really happy and really sad; and the story ends with a mantra of  reassurance – of never giving up hope and not giving into fear, no matter what you face through your inner and  outer world.
This song talks about connection with nature, home on the road, what makes you feel at home and peace,  patience, resourcefulness, admittance, duality, being homesick, being lonely, being lost, realisations, being  single, making things that last in a fair way, reminders of inner strength, release.
I started writing this song in early 2017, after a regional tour in Australia over the Summer. I have a direct  flashback to being on the Nullarbor in Western Australia, laying out in the desert, by the sea looking under the  stars – it was breathtaking. We surfed so much that particular trip and I found a real solace in nature from  what I was going through personally.
I actually tried recording this for Laps Around The Sun, but Garrett Kato and I bailed out because it just didn’t  feel right. I’m happy we made that decision. I recorded the entirety of this at Yamanui Studio on the Sunshine  Coast, Australia. I didn’t say a lot to Paulie in order not to jinx it – but I was nervous that recording it could’ve been a nightmare. But it wasn’t – it went so smoothly! There are so many layers and awesome people who  joined this track, particularly at the end. It’s a very unique breakdown and outro so I’m really stoked with that.

circus

circus is a song about lions and elephants. It’s such a personal song, about so many things and I don’t think I  can say more than that. I think it will mean so many things to so many different people. I want every listeners heart and imaginations to stay open to how they choose to interpret the story. I think when we choose to treat  ourselves and each other poorly, we are going to do the same with animals. I’m not vegan but I am honest  about that and the fact we have to try and support cruelty free operations concerning humans, animals and  the planet. I think we can forever continue to be better to ourselves and to each other on this beautiful planet.
I wrote this in early 2019 and recorded it mid 2019. I remember being in Bondi, Sydney, and the melody and  words of “everybody loves a circus” fell on my lap for the first time. I knew immediately this was going to be a  lifetime song, and it truly feels like one of the most wonderful stories I’ve ever been a custodian for. It has its
own life and energy. It’s both very much fiction and very much reality. The story wrote itself in things that  happened along the way on my first ever world tour.
The recording process started at St. Felix Studio in New York, with Theo Aronson. His production for this track  was phenomenal, and aside from re-recording the lead vocal and mixing the track at Yamanui with Paulie  Bromley, it largely remained the same. I am very precious about this song. I recorded this song in the same  week as Intentions, which was cool because they were two totally different tracks. I ended up chopping the  verses in half and hope one day to release an extended version of the track.
My favourite part about this song is how I’m immediately immersed into journey. There is a lot of times I’ve  listened to this track and have looked up four minutes later wondering where I went.

feeling you 

feeling you is about my life and feelings in the midst of one of the strangest years in all of our lives. It’s about  home.
This song talks about my house, seeing through the veil, letting what should be free be free, seeing how readily  we lock away ourselves, how we lock away love, feeling the pace of life, keeping passion alight, the magic of  humanity, ignorance, the truth of contentment.
I wrote this at my home, very much amidst recording and writing searching for freedom in the middle of 2020.  It’s the first time I have written songs while recording a record, which was a really cool experience. Hitting the  second chorus notes for the first time I had to go stand on the other side of the room and basically scream,  which I’m sure was great for the neighbours.
This is my favourite recording on the whole album. It’s probably my favourite recording and production ever. I  think for Paulie and I it was a real level up. We barely mixed it because Paulie had recorded it so well. The  production is tasteful and contemporary but not contrived. Being a singer-songwriter isn’t often unique, but I  feel like this track truly is.
My favourite parts about this song, if I had to pick, is the way we treated the harmonies, the bowed double  bass and the melodica. The vocal treatment really guides the song, the bowed double bass is just divine, and  the melodica gives it such a unique point on the album. I love the acoustic bass that sounds like a warm sitar. I  love it all.

searching for freedom 

This song is about searching for freedom. Freedom for me is a lot about identity. Freedom for me is about  being at peace with myself and not being guided or clouded by fear in my day-to-day. Granting ourselves and  others freedom is a key fundamental piece in a peaceful, happy society. Celebrating each other for our  individuality is one of the most important things I’ve been reminded of in 2020.
This song talks about growth, self-love, trade-offs, nurturing environments, expectations of others, slowing  down time, the inner spiritual journey, searching for identity, uncovering the layers of our true nature,  breaking out of conditioning, perspective shifts, being present, freeing ourselves from ourselves, healing,  realigning self-expectations when they aren’t healthy, seeing yourself for who you truly are, finding peace day  to day, finding peace on the journey, looking into the unknown with hope, reconnecting with nature, the  pursuit of truth.
I started writing this while I was camping at the start of 2020. I didn’t really finish it until I was recording the  track, which was months later. That is when the lyrics just came naturally for the ending. It was the last song  we recorded for the record at Yamanui with Paulie Bromley. The recording process was joyous. I didn’t have a lot of pressure on this song. I thought of it more as a theme  song – but in the end it really became one of the most powerful moments of the record, with a very special  sonic identity.
My favourite parts about this song is the group vocals and the Ukulele at the end. We had pretty much  everybody who worked on the record performing on this song. Then in addition we had our whole label team  and my Mum do a big vocal together for the end. It sounds amazing. Kim Churchill came up for a visit and I  asked him to play some Ukulele as a part of the many layers; and as he recorded it, he just kept playing after  the ending. I remember watching the take and it was honestly one of my favourite moments of the album. It  wasn’t planned and I think it just finished the record in the most perfect, genuine way.

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:: stream/purchase searching for freedom here ::



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Searching for Freedom - Ziggy Alberts

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