Current Issue #488

Nancy Bates on John Baker, tiny houses and her debut album

Nancy Bates on John Baker, tiny houses and her debut album

Crafted over two years marked by joy and hardship, Nancy Bates will make her full-length debut this month with For Your Love.

Having spent years on the road playing guitar and singing with the legendary Archie Roach, this debut body of work from the Adelaide-based Barkindji songwriter has been a long time coming.

Bates recorded the album over two years with a dream team of local musicians led by the late John Baker of the Baker Suite. The prolific songwriter and performer took on the producer role for For Your Love, which was completed shortly before his death in August 2018.

“It was something I will treasure for all my life,” Bates says of the experience. “It was like hanging out with mates who are also some of the best musicians and songwriters around. John had meticulously arranged every instrument on every song – he was a perfectionist with arranging.

“I think John experienced a lot of pain during the making of the album, physically, emotionally and spiritually. But that just made John give more to the process – it was the last album he would produce. He sincerely relished every moment making this album, every single moment. What [other] producer could honestly give that much of themselves?”

Nancy Bates and John Baker in the studio (Photo: Ben Searcy)

The first single from the album, Jack and Jill, draws lyrical inspiration from the ‘tiny house’ movement, and its message of minimalism and sustainability. “Learning more about the realities of climate change, it makes sense to live much smaller,” Bates says. “’Jack and Jill’ represent an aspiration. In the song, they can’t live with the pace and negative impacts of city living, so they abandon what is sold as the ‘dream’ to most of us, to live sustainable. There is so much fear about ‘breaking free’ and yet there are so many people living off the grid.  I wanted to write something about that, sing about it.

Bates will launch For Your Love on March 31 with support from The Yearlings and Kuko, in a milestone that will both mark the anticipated arrival of one South Australia songwriter, and the bittersweet finale of another.

“The album will remain as one of the most precious gifts, to me, and to all those who love beautiful music. I have cried every time I listen to the album, since John’s passing, not because I am sad, because I am so damn happy to have made this collection of songs, with John Baker and The Baker Suite.”

Listen to Jack and Jill here.

Nancy Bates For Your Love album launch
The Wheatsheaf Hotel
Sunday, March 31

Header image:
Ben Searcy

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