Callea_embedTurning 30 is one of those milestones in life; a time to take stock, think about what lies ahead and possibly even panic. For Anthony Callea, turning 30 in December of last year was a time to head to the studio and work on his first album since 2006.

The resulting collection, appropriately titled Thirty, mixes some much-loved covers (everything from Heart’s ‘80s power ballad Alone to fellow out-and-proud talent show alumni Will Young’s Leave Right Now) with a couple of self-penned songs and a sprinkling of Italian-language classics.

“I wanted to celebrate turning 30 by recording an album that reflected the last 30 years for me. I wanted to pay homage to these artists and songs, not recreate them, but put stamp to them,” Callea told the Star Observer.

While it’s been seven years since his last album release, Callea’s barely been off the radar since placing as the runner-up in the 2004 season of Australian Idol. In recent years he’s dabbled in stage and TV work, and in 2011 released a divisive, vocoder-heavy EP of dance pop, Last To Go. Why the return to the ballad-driven music that first garnered him fans?

“Everyone goes through stages in their life, and the same goes with music. I spent a bit of time in LA in 2010/11 and was working with some shit-hot writers and producers, all which I set up myself without a record company as I wasn’t signed at the time.

“It was what felt right at the time and [Last To Go] was an EP that I self-funded and put together myself; one that I’m very proud of,” he said, refuting the assumption that he’s strictly a ballads artist.

“I started out with a pop record and yes, The Prayer was the first single off that album but it hasn’t always been about the ballads for me.”

Of course, it’s hard to talk about Callea without acknowledging his proud and public relationship with his partner of the past five years, actor and fellow singer Tim Campbell. The pair give each other enormous public support, regularly using social media to heap praise on each other’s career endeavors. They even took to their respective Twitter feeds to lash out at a Fairfax journalist who recently made Callea’s stance on gay activism the focus of an interview, an incident Callea would not be drawn upon with the Star Observer.

“I’m very fortunate to have him by my side. It’s great that we can share what we do with each other and be a sound board for each other,” he said.

Campbell’s more than a sound board – he’s now a featured part of Callea’s music career, appearing in the video clip to his first single from Thirty, the tender original love song My All.

“I love having him as a part of this clip. The song was written about him, so it’s only fitting to have him part of it,” Callea gushed.

INFO: Thirty (ABC Music) out now.

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