It's a fascinating thing, really. Why, and how, in the same year that Clare Bowditch married her producer and musical companion Marty Brown, won the ARIA for Best Female Artist 2006, and gave birth to identical twin boys, did she also write and record her third album "The Moon Looked On", a triumphant tale of lust, temptation, freedom, fear, and good old-fashioned romping?
Bowditch has never been short on imagination, or originality. A songwriter since the age of three, she still claims that there's no method to her writing. "I have no real discipline at all actually. I think the compulsion to write is really just a side-effect of being an emotionally-curious person. We've spent the previous two years singing songs that mainly centered around the theme of grief and death ('What Was Left' 2005). Of course, what next, but an album about being completely and utterly alive?"
After the success of 'What Was Left', and a year spent touring with the likes of Paul Kelly and Bernard Fanning, Bowditch (who writes both on the road and at home) found herself saddled with an entirely new sort of song on her hands. Instead of the usual finger-picking style, she started playing around with amplifiers and loop pedals, and before long, the odd chord had even crept its way in. "I don't know where the songs come from really. They kind of present themselves in my imagination like letters in a post-box. A lot of the time they're just bills or junk-mail, but every now and then you get a series of songs that very clearly belong together. This is what happened with 'What Was Left', and this is also what's happened with 'The Moon Looked On', which is like an aural collection of some of the funniest, dirtiest, most tender and confused "letters" I've ever received".
'The Moon Looked On' really began, however, in 2006 after Marty and Clare's spent most of their Vietnamese honeymoon jamming in a small music shop in Hanoi. These ancient instruments, and their discussions with the young woman who ran the shop seemed to spark Bowditch and Brown's imaginations, allowing them to begin broadening their ideas about exactly which instrumentation/ scales they might use on the next album. (The scale that Clare sings to open "When the Lights Went Down", for example, was inspired by a song she heard performed at a water-puppet show. This same scale is common in many Indian songs as well). After playing almost every instrument in the shop, the couple left with a 17-sting Dan Tranh (the sound that begins "You Show Up"), a set of six tuned gongs (as featured in "Doesn't matter how" ) a haunting Dan Bau (the sound that blows open the chorus of "Peccadilloes"), and a hefty amount of over-sized baggage and bubble-wrap. The Indian tamboura, the Ghanian bellafon, and other instruments featured on the album were all borrowed from friends once back in Melbourne.