April 24, 2013
TURNING 30 may mean earning a few wrinkles, but for Anthony Callea it also means an awareness that comes with age.
His new album, Thirty, not only celebrates his milestone birthday, but reaching a point where he can make a record on his terms.
It has covers he grew up singing - Oleta Adams' Get Here, Luther Vandross' Dance With My Father, Cheap Trick's The Flame, Backstreet Boys' The Perfect Fan, Will Young's Leave Right Now and Whitney & Mariah's When You Believe.
Throw in a Michael Bolton song and two Italian covers, and it's a major shift from Callea's last release, a dance pop EP.
"I threw the concept of being cool out of the window making this record," Callea says.
"With age, you know your strengths and weaknesses. I didn't set out to make a record that's commercially cool or worry about what people think I should do. I did what I wanted. Yes, there's some ballads on there, and some songs in Italian, but it's not just an album full of The Prayer again; I won't do that again, it's been done."
The album opts for vocal emotion over sonic perfection, as well as live strings.
"People have already said, 'Oh you've left commercial dance pop behind for this', but I don't regret anything," Callea says.
"I paid for that (dance) EP myself. I'm not going to throw thousands of dollars away on something I didn't feel was right. I had to get it out of my system.
"With this album, when you love a song and it means something to you, it's not difficult. There were no rules, no fighting. I wasn't worried about getting songs on radio or which demographic they were for."
Callea has included two originals, My All and I'll Be the One. Both were written four years ago near the start of his relationship with actor and singer Tim Campbell.
"The premise of My All is someone coming into your life and giving love a second chance. The first time I recorded I'll Be the One a few years ago, I played it to Tim and he started crying. When I played him the new version for this album, he bawled as well. I'm not good with emotion. I didn't know what to do. Do I hand him a tissue? I can communicate much better in song than in a conversation. But that's a beautiful sign when someone so close to you has that reaction to a song you wrote."
The video for My All also features a cameo from Campbell, now starring in House Husbands. "I said, 'It's written about you, why can't you be in the clip?'," Callea says. "It's a simple video, it's a really beautiful clip that captures what the song is about. And it's made a few people who've already seen it cry - for the right reasons - and that's the best compliment."
Thirty (ABC/Universal), out tomorrow.