Tina Arena’s new album is appropriately named: 12 long years after her last original English language album, it hits ‘Reset’ on a career that’s been somewhat undervalued in this country in recent times.
Since that last album of originals, Arena has released several albums in France, and the sumptuous Songs of Love and Loss covers collections. Was she eager to get back to releasing her own music here in Australia?
“I’ve been itching to do it for a while, to be honest. I’d love a penny for every time someone asked me when I was going to [release an album] again. I have to explain to people that you have to be so motivated, and really ready to go in the ring again and take a couple of hits. You have to be ready for it, particularly in today’s environment,” Arena told the Star Observer ahead of Reset’s October 18 release.
“A part of me is trepidatious about the fact that everything has changed so much in the musical field… but the rest of me is feeling joyous and ready to do something new – it’s long overdue!”
Arena needn’t worry. Reset is an album to rival her 1990’s classics Don’t Ask and In Deep: strident, adult power-pop, exemplified by the anthemic first single You Set Fire To My Life.
That’s not to denigrate Arena’s recent Australian work. Her Songs of Love & Loss records were covers albums with a difference – no cheap holiday cash-ins, they were instead lovingly curated collections of songs that had shaped her as a performer.
“There was a lot of work in those records, absolutely. They’re big records, they’re expensive records to make. They were all songs that meant something to me growing up, too,” she said.
“I learned so much from that project, my god. It’s not easy singing other people’s songs when a melody and a performance is so embedded in your psyche. There was always the danger I’d come along with my version and everyone would say, “Oh, she fucked that up!’”
On Reset highlight Love You Less, Arena references the unique, globe-straddling position she finds herself in. We wondered if the chorus – “I tried my best to love you less” – was a rumination on the difficulties of maintaining her 13-year relationship with French artist Vincent Mancini when so many of her family ties are here in Australia.
“The whole record is based on experience, but that song is also based on my relationship with what I do – there are times when it’s been tough and I’ve thought, why am I doing this? I wish I loved it a bit less’.”
There are plenty more revelations to be found in Arena’s newly released autobiography, Now I Can Dance – a book that traces her life from her childhood on Young Talent Time right up to her position as a world-travelling working mum today.
“The book is as frank as you can be without putting yourself in the firing line. You’ve got to be careful, because words you speak today can cost you shitloads of money down the track! I do feel lucky that I’m the first one to do it, and there’s no-one else telling my story for me.”
INFO: Reset (EMI Music) out October 18., Now I Can Dance (Harper Collins) out now.