Today’s Song: Ziggy Alberts & Donovan Woods Reckon with Cultural Trends & Polarization in “THE SUN & THE SEA”

Ziggy Alberts & Donovan Woods © 2022
Ziggy Alberts & Donovan Woods © 2022
Singer/songwriters Ziggy Alberts & Donovan Woods start some important conversations on “THE SUN & THE SEA,” a beautifully raw reckoning and captivating critique of modern cultural trends and polarization.
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“THE SUN & THE SEA” – Ziggy Alberts, Donovan Woods




Feeling like an outlaw, living in a post-truth era; we’re still figuring out what we came to remember…

There’s an aching turmoil brewing within Ziggy Alberts and Donovan Woods’ tender new song. It’s a visceral, existential pain – one that extends well beyond either singer/songwriter’s country or culture, and speaks to the current state of the world as we know it to be from our media, our social media feeds, and our everyday lives. A beautifully raw reckoning of life in the 2020s, “THE SUN & THE SEA” is a captivating critique of modern cultural trends and polarization: A heartfelt acoustic pop song that ultimately finds the light in the darkness, and connection in our disconnected and oft disjointed world.

The Sun & The Sea - Ziggy Alberts, Donovan Woods
The Sun & The Sea – Ziggy Alberts, Donovan Woods
We want to be famous
But we don’t really mind what for
And we want to feel different
As long as nobody’s keeping score
And we want to get high on another’s supply
Living so conveniently
And we only want to protest when it’s on-trend
And everyone else here agrees

Out May 19, 2022 via Ziggy Alberts’ own Commonfolk Records, “THE SUN & THE SEA” is a radiant outpouring of unfiltered commentary and thought-provoking insight. It’s the Australian singer/songwriter’s fourth single since the release of his fifth LP, the widely praised (and ARIA Award-nominated) searching for freedom, last March. In a feature published around that time, Atwood Magazine commended Alberts for turning his thoughtful inward focus out on society and the world at large, praising searching for freedom as “a record whose powerful messages of sustainability, peace, justice, and understanding are sure to resonate with all who listen.”

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

:: FEATURE ::



This is also one of the few collaborations Alberts has done in his decade-long tenure as a recording artist. Some might say he found his Canadian counterpart in fellow singer/songwriter and JUNO Award winning artist Donovan Woods: The Toronto-born artist (who recently released a new EP, Big Hurt Boy, via his own label End Times Music) has become a staple of the North American folk and folk pop scene in the last five years, touring tirelessly whilst racking up millions of streams from avid listeners around the globe.

Like Alberts, Woods has never been shy of speaking openly about his perceived fractures of our modern world; his vast catalog of songs includes ruminations on everything from economic and social inequality, to the importance of mental health, to “maleness” and toxic masculinity, to problems within the music industry itself. Similar to Alberts’ own art, Woods too has the uncanny ability to maintain a positive outlook even in the worst of situations: His music is often a beacon of hope, illuminating the path forward.

Donovan Woods © courtesy of the artist
Donovan Woods © courtesy of the artist



With this background in mind, it comes as no surprise that a Woods – Alberts collaboration would be both outspoken and uplifting.

The artists trade gentle vocals atop a soft and lilting acoustic guitar pattern in “THE SUN & THE SEA,” vacillating between issues with today’s culture, ideals for what a modern society might look like, and a steadfast, innate belief that we as humans are still growing, still evolving, and still progressing toward that latter set of ideals.

“This song, for me, acts as a place-marker for what we are currently experiencing in our social culture and society,” Ziggy Alberts tells Atwood Magazine. “It speaks to how we feel as humans and individuals, navigating through the current norms and trends we are experiencing through this time. The lyrics are quite literal with calling out what these trends are, but then trying to encourage myself (and others) to stay true to yourself, your individualism, and to show up, stand up and ‘stand in’ for your beliefs and what you are passionate about – even if you feel it makes you sit ‘outside of the box.‘”

The first verse, sung by Woods, explores what a longing to be seen alongside what Alberts describes as the emptiness in our culture. “We value being famous, but we’re not concerned for the ‘why’,” he shares. “We want to feel unique, as long as no one points us out. We fear rejection in standing out on our own or for feeling different because all we really want to do is fit in… We often look outwards and to other things for our joy, when so much of it can be found within ourselves.”



The chorus represents the song’s moment of true reckoning: The walls break down in a candid, intimate recognition of fallibility, fracture, human flaws, and imperfection. The pair observe the dissonance in many of our countries: “Feeling like an outlaw, living in a post-truth era… Citizens in an uproar, living through myopic eras…” while also interspersing inspiring words of hope and a heartfelt belief in humankind’s capacity to improve over time: “We’re still figuring out what we came to remember… The sun and the sea always work it out…

We’re still figuring out
What we came to remember
Feeling like an outlaw

Living in a post-truth era, era
We’re still figuring out
What we came to remember
Citizens in an uproar

Living through myopic eras, eras
The sun and the sea a
lways work it out
The sun and the sea always work it out

“The chorus is really just explaining that we are still figuring out what it means to be human and the purpose of our lives,” Alberts says. And sometimes in doing that, we can feel like outlaws because of these social norms we face. But in truth, to be human is almost the antithesis of these trends happening around us. It’s also about living in this era of making ‘short term decisions without consideration of a long-term affect.’”



“The ‘post-truth era’ line is something I was inspired to write after watching a Ricky Gervais special where he mentions it. Another part of the inspiration of the line for me was from Westworld – a blend of the old world and the new world, which is very representative of where we are now. Sometimes in the current age, you feel like an outlaw for speaking your truth. This song is to inspire you to have the freedom to speak your truth and not feel like an outlaw. To quote George Orwell’s line in 1984, ‘the further society drifts away from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.'”

Sometimes in the current age, you feel like an outlaw for speaking your truth. This song is to inspire you to have the freedom to speak your truth and not feel like an outlaw.

For all the strife and turbulence felt in these words, the chorus’ final, repeated phrase provides an optimistic counterweight. “The sun and the sea always work it out – this line is a reminder to look to nature to see how two opposites can find balance and their equilibrium,” Alberts notes. “It’s a truth of life and it gives me hope that we can work it out. When we act with understanding and empathy, we can find common ground and see, perhaps, we aren’t so different at all. In our culture, we need diversity – of people, of thoughts, of ideas. In the lyrics, that’s what I hope this song encourages.

Ziggy Alberts © Janneke Storm
Ziggy Alberts © Janneke Storm



Alberts sings the song’s second verse, tackling cancel culture and fear of individualism. His emotional singing betrays the weight he feels in the pit of his stomach – a weight that is sure to hang heavy on all who internalize these lines:

We want to be honest
Ignore the elephant in the room
And we want to have culture
But cancel it if it ain’t my views
And I want to get high on another’s supply

Stop living so conveniently
And I want to go protest n
ot cause it’s on-trend
Standing in for what I believe

“How can we create and think with uniqueness if we are always fearing that we’ll be cancelled for it – because it sits outside of the box or norm? No matter how opposed we are by other people’s views that we don’t agree with, acting in anger and cancel culture doesn’t solve it,” Alberts asserts. “It doesn’t allow for understanding or an exchange of ideas. It doesn’t allow for growth or learning. It only breeds more fear.”

No matter how opposed we are by other people’s views that we don’t agree with, acting in anger and cancel culture doesn’t solve it.



Balancing the bittersweet with the buoyant, “THE SUN & THE SEA” is truly irresistible.

The song’s mix of warning and wonder is fully enhanced by the two voices channeling those messages. “Everything about this collaboration has been so natural,” Alberts says. “When I wrote ‘THE SUN & THE SEA,’ it had tinges of Donovan’s melodic vibe, so we got on the phone, and I sent him the track to potentially work on together. From the first time I heard him sing “we want to be famous,” I was blown away; it felt that this was how the song was meant to be all along. Working with Donovan on this song has turned it into one of my favourite stories of all time.”

“The thing that struck me about Ziggy’s songs when I first heard a bunch of them was their honest open-ended-ness, full of wonder without the pretense of all the answers,” Donovan Woods adds. “He seems to allow his songs to arrive on their own terms and drift out. It’s as though you’re getting to hear him figure them out, as though you’re a part of it too. It’s beautiful. So, when he sent me this song and the line, “We’re still figuring out…” was right there in it, I felt like I understood the sentiment. It was a joy to work with him on it; I love the sparseness and directness of it. It makes me feel the way Ziggy’s songs make me feel, so I’m into it.”

We’re still figuring out
What we came to remember
Feeling like an outlaw
Living in a post-truth era, era
We’re still figuring out
What we came to remember
Citizens in an uproar
Living through myopic eras, eras
The sun and the sea always work it out
The sun and the sea always work it out

Alberts and Woods have outdone themselves on this song, breaking down the complexities of our highly polarized world and pointing out some of the problems we should all be collectively thinking about and working on. Listen to “THE SUN & THE SEA” below; let this song be a soundtrack to your own reflections on everything from cancel culture to political and social polarization, and beyond.

Whatever your take on these topics may be, kudos to Ziggy Alberts and Donovan Woods for getting some important conversations started.

— —

:: stream/purchase THE SUN & THE SEA here ::
“THE SUN & THE SEA” – Ziggy Alberts, Donovan Woods



— — — —

The Sun & The Sea - Ziggy Alberts, Donovan Woods

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