Melaleuca reveals a coming-of-age both musically and lyrically, with strong themes of self-discovery and self-acceptance running throughout. This is Naomi Keyte’s first release since her 2013 EP Edge of Morning, which sees her working with a full band featuring musicians from fellow South Australian bands, Sparkspitter and Swimming.
Recorded on the quiet coastline of Point Lonsdale, Victoria, Melaleuca draws heavily on the notion of ‘home’, particularly those people and places that create a sense of belonging and identity. Many of the songs make direct reference to places in South Australia that have been significant throughout Keyte’s life, such as her family’s beach house in Cape Jervis and the Adelaide Hills. However, it was the quiet and calm of ‘Lonnie’ that provided the perfect place to create the 10-track LP, recorded by producer Nick Huggins in his friendly home-built studio.
Throughout his work with record labels Two Bright Lakes and Little Lake Records, Huggins has collaborated with the likes of Bonnie Prince Billy, Kid Sam, Otouto and Jen Cloher. His sensitivity as both a musician and a producer helped to facilitate a musical space in which each member of the band could contribute something quite unique to the album.
Melaleuca sees Keyte moving beyond her earlier ambient-folk sensibility to a more integrated alt-pop sound. On tracks such as ‘Company’ and ‘Limitless’, Matt Barlow (bass) and Rohan Goldsmith (drums/percussion) help bring an element of design to the sound, one that is in equal parts dynamic and grounded. The layers introduced by Sam Reynolds (guitar) & Thomas Capogreco (viola/guitar) in ‘Undertow’ and ‘We spoke of the Future’ duck and weave around Keyte’s evocative vocals, bringing texture and sway to the arrangements.
The album is littered with collaborations with some incredible Australian artists. Ben TD (Open Swimmer) lends his voice to several songs including ‘Somebody Else’s House’; Georgia Harvey’s distinct and rich vocals anchor Keyte’s clear tone in ‘Have Her Fill’; and Suzie Wyllie brings her own feminine power to ‘Limitless’.
As a collective, the band draws on a wide range of influences including Shining Bird, Tiny Ruins, Angel Olsen, Laura Jean, Kid Sam, Portishead, Seagull, My Disco, Ainslie Wills and A.A. Bondy.