by Silke Hartung

Aly Cook: Fanned by a Cold Wind

by Silke Hartung

Aly Cook: Fanned by a Cold Wind

One Australian chart success chases the last for award-winning Nelson country artist, singer-songwriter Aly Cook. No surprise then that she usually has one foot firmly across the ditch, where there’s a much bigger scene supporting the genre. In spring last year she released her third solo album ‘Caught In The Middle’, recorded in Australia with the help of John Kaldor, Sharon O’Neill and Buzz Bidstrup, a former member of The Angels and The Party Boys. Aly Cook’s stirring new single, Cold Wind, is accompanied by a suitably epic video filmed near Alice Springs.

Your new Cold Wind single is a very touching ballad that was written by Australian Kay Bidstrup. How did you two connect?

I met Kay through her husband, who I first met at the Gympie Music Muster in 2013. Buzz Bidstrup was the drummer of the Angels, and co-wrote one of the their biggest hits, No Secrets, with Doc Neeson. Buzz and Kay were founding members of ’80s pop band Gang Gajang and over the next three years each time I was in Australia the three of us would enjoy writing sessions together. Buzz produced my album ‘Caught in the Middle’ in his home studio, so Kay and I got to know each other really well.

What’s the story behind the song?

It’s sad story. The musicians we had on ‘Caught in the Middle’ album sessions were the Tracking Crew, a group of top Australian musicians including guitarist Glen Hannah. A few weeks after the album was recorded and I was home, Glen tragically took his own life, a real shock to his friends and associates in the Australian country music industry. When I returned to Australia Kay played me the song she wrote the day she heard the news about Glen. She sat at her piano on a cold windy day and penned something incredible. The moment I heard it, I knew I wanted to make it the final song and dedicate the album to his memory. It was one of the last of the many albums Glen had laid his incredibly gifted guitar work on.

How did you find the right frame of mind to interpret someone else’s song so empathetically?

Because my heart was breaking and it still does when I listen to the songs on my current album that Glen is playing on… For me though, Cold Wind was uplifting and cathartic on a personal level to deliver. It was like a healing process of sorts. I cried as I sang the song at Rick’s, and I cried filming the video.

To pick just one aspect of many, the harmonies lift the song to quite an ethereal level. Who else did you work with on the song?

We recorded it at Rick Melick’s house. Rick and Kay wrote out a chart around the piano and recorded together, just piano and voice. Then we grouped around the microphone, Rick, Buzz, Kay, myself and Rick’s partner’s daughter Lea, better known as the artist L’Freaq, who was visiting from the USA. We did two takes as a little choir and Buzz did some nice work in the mix.

It’s a natural album closer for ‘Caught In The Middle’ – but otherwise how do you figure out the order of tracks? 

Buzz helped greatly in that task, making the track order a journey that feels like a flow.

Can you tell us a little about the video? And the stunning location!

I went to Alice Springs with filmographer Amy Shields and shot two videos over 3 or 4 days in the beautiful East MacDonnell Ranges. We drove in a Toyota ‘Troopy’ courtesy of CAAMA media. Red Dirt Road Trip and Cold Wind are the clips Amy made.

What are you working towards right now behind the scenes?

Well, like all of us trying to keep afloat. I’m a publicist for other artists, with my partner Therese in Sydney. We’re busy with a constant flow of artist releases, but my career is very much based in Australia. I am hoping that I can return by November for Tamworth Country Music Festival in January when the Trans-Tasman bubble is open.

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