Sunny Sally Seltmann
Published Mar 25, 2010Sally Seltmann lives in Australia but that's not the only reason why her album sounds like sunshine. On Heart That's Pounding, she wanted to "make an uplifting pop album with classic pop songs." But, if you listen closer you'll hear that it's a slightly more complicated than that. Heart That's Pounding is packed with songs that glow with pep, which is a slight departure from her previous work under the moniker New Buffalo, which she recently ditched in favour of her given name. "With this new album, I felt a lot more confident as a songwriter. A lot of songs reference me trying to get over my shyness... and it felt like the right time to start playing under my real name. It feels simpler and easier."
Co-writing a Grammy-winning song doesn't hurt either. Seltmann is best known for bequeathing "1,2,3,4" to label-mate Feist. "I wrote it after I heard 'Mushaboom,' and when I played it, it sounded too much like a Feist song, so I gave it to her." The only similarity between the tracks on Heart That's Pounding and "1,2,3,4" is Seltmann's ability to write songs with infectious hooks that make you feel like you could sing along even if you're hearing them for the first time.
"I was really into classic radio songs when I was writing this album, I wanted to have it really sing-along-y; you know all those songs that are always on the radio no matter how old they are. I was really into that idea." On Heart That's Pounding Seltmann aspired to write songs "that come on and you're immediately into the story of the song. That's what we tried to capture with a lot of the songs on this album."
Although she was involved in all aspects of the album, Heart That's Pounding showcases the work of co- producer and film composer Francois Tetaz, which might account for the cinematic scope. "For the first two albums I did everything, but with this album I wanted to get Frank involved and have him do the arrangements. I still took the recording sessions back to my own studio because we still wanted it to have that type of feel." Heart That's Pounding features a swell of narrative- and image-based songs, but the mood remains nostalgic, sunny and ultimately fun. "I really feel like, with this album, I want the people in my band to really enjoy playing the music and have a good time because the songs are a bit more fun than my last album."
The album's cheerful disposition is saved from sounding overly saccharine because of Seltmann's tendency to use dark subject matter in her songwriting, including a song about personality disorder. Seltmann says, "I hoped that people would respond to it in a positive way and respond to the positive energy in it. But also, I would hope they would see the other layers as well. I always try to have songs that have a few layers and a few different meanings going on that aren't really as happy as they seem." In spite of this, Heart That's Pounding is an effervescent pop album. Even if you're a sour puss, you'll find yourself captivated by the melodies, which might make you hate yourself even more, but that's what you want, right?