New release from Gurrumul pays homage to family

A still from Gurrumul’s music video for Jesu.
A still from Gurrumul’s music video for Jesu. Contributed

THE Gospel Album is the third full-length studio release by Gurrumul.

To be released on July 31, the album is a dedication to his mother and aunts, who brought him up with songs and lullabies from the church at Elcho Island.

As a small boy, Gurrumul was not only influenced by the traditional music of his clan but by the gospel music he heard every Sunday at the local Methodist church.

The Gospel Album is a re-imagining of the spiritual songs that came to north-east Arnhem Land via Christian missionaries.

Jesu is the lead single from the recording, a song of praise and meditation. It embraces a familiar Gurrumul acoustic guitar feel.

The Gospel Album was produced by Gurrumul's long-time collaborator, Michael Hohnen, from Skinnyfish Music.

Hohnen explained the way the album was created.

"The process we took for the making of this album was very organic," he said.

"We worked with Gurrumul for a little preproduction of any gospel songs that he knew or remembered.

"He came up with Riyala and Baptism straight away, and that was enough inspiration for us to set a date to record.

"We entered the studios not knowing what would come out, but we did know that inside Gurrumul's mind and memory was a body of work that had never been revealed before to mainstream audiences."

Hohnen said the studio sessions were musical, improvisational and pure in their exploration of creating music, rather than recording in a predetermined way.

"Outcomes were unknown until we recorded them," he said.

Hear Gurrumul at the QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, on Sunday, August 2.