Sally Seltmann and her Seeker Lover Keeper bandmates Sarah Blasko and Holly Throsby hit the road in the coming weeks as part of the line-up for They Will Have Their Way, an all-star tribute to the songwriting genius of the Finn brothers.

The genesis of the Australia-wide tour came back in 2005, as Seltmann — then working under the moniker New Buffalo — contributed a cover of Four Seasons In One Day to the Finn brothers tribute compilation
album, She Will Have Her Way.

Featuring 16 Neil or Tim Finn-penned classics interpreted by female artists from Australia and New Zealand, the album and its follow-up, last year’s male tribute He Will Have His Way, sold more than 400,000 copies.

“They’ve written so many songs, so growing up it was pretty hard to avoid hearing their songs,” Seltmann told the Star Observer when asked about her connection to the music of the Finn brothers, be it solo, as a duo, or in Crowded House and Split Enz.

“But that’s OK, because I’m a big fan. I guess they have quite a classic sort of writing style — a little similar to the Beatles in some ways. I’m a really big fan of that style of songwriting.”

As shy and softly-spoken over the phone as you’d expect listening to her heartfelt music, Seltmann acknowledged her own work was influenced by the contemplative, sometimes introverted songwriting of the Finns at their best.

“Definitely. A lot of their lyrics are very thoughtful, and they have moments where they come across as quite solitary, and feminine, in a way.”

Which meant that She Will Have Her Way didn’t have the novelty factor that an all-female album of, say, AC/DC covers might. And with Australian male artists getting in on the act last year, the live show will see Seeker
Lover Keeper and flame-haired songstress Clare Bowditch joined by Lior, Alexander Gow (aka Oh Mercy) and Something For Kate frontman Paul Dempsey.

The assembled artists are all currently feverishly rehearsing their chosen selections.

“We’ll each do a few songs on our own, which will give us all some time to be ourselves and present the songs in exactly the way we want,” Seltmann said.

“But we’ll also be singing a few songs together, plus people will be singing backing vocals on each other’s songs.”

On top of their solo selections, Seltmann, Blasko and Throsby will join forces on the night to perform their cover of Neil Finn’s 1998 debut solo single Sinner, a “moody, cinematic” studio version of which appears as one of four freshly-recorded new tracks on a two-CD repackage of the albums, out this week.

While Seltmann said Four Seasons In One Day remained her favourite Finn song, she was developing a fresh appreciation for this underrated track.

“As Holly’s mentioned before, Sinner is very much the sort of song that’s written after you’ve already written a lot of other songs,” she said.

“It’s quite unconventional — it doesn’t really go verse, chorus, verse, chorus — but it’s a very beautiful song.”

The trio will juggle the concerts with their own touring commitments, as Seeker Lover Keeper embark on ‘Heavenly Sounds’ in November, performing in churches nationwide.

It’ll cap off an incredible year for the ‘supergroup’, which released its debut album in June.

The success its experienced seems especially sweet for the perpetually underappreciated Seltmann — despite releasing three stellar albums since 2004, she’s never troubled the Top 40. She now finds herself with a platinum album, an ARIA nomination and a sold-out tour.

“We just wanted to make an album we felt really proud of and to enjoy the process. It’s been amazing how many people have come on board and appreciated what we’ve done,” she said.

Hopefully some of that mainstream success will carry over to Seltmann’s next solo album, which she’ll start work on next year in collaboration with husband (and Avalanches keyboardist) Darren Seltmann.

“He produced my first EP New Buffalo, years and years ago, so it’s kind of like I’ve gone full circle,” she said.

“We’re still in the process of figuring out what the sound’s going to be. It’ll definitely be very emotional, and probably more electronic.

“I feel like I’ve got a bit lost in my own world at times as a solo artist. Now I do enjoy sharing the creative process a bit more — having people around me and working together.”

INFO: They Will Have Their Way, Palais, November 5 – and Sydney Opera House, November 16 – 18.
Photo by TONY MOTT.

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