Album Walkthrough: Dope Lemon talks his swagger-filled Smooth Big Cat
On his second album as Dope Lemon, Angus Stone displays the fuzzy confidence he's become so recognised for.
Since initially launching the project with its 2016 debut album Honey Bones, Angus Stone's Dope Lemon project has come along way. On his 2017 EP Hounds Tooth and the ensemble of singles that have come since, Angus has used to the project to experiment upon the sounds that have become distinctly his - his honey-dripped voice, subtle guitar strums, down-tempo grooves - without being held back by the expectations or creative blocks that might become bound to his other, more long-standing projects. There's a certain freedom in the project, he says, that allows a different side of his songwriting to shine through, and on Smooth Big Cat, the already well-received second Dope Lemon project, you're able to get a clearer sense of what exactly this means.
Across its ten-track duration, Smooth Big Cat feels like Angus Stone building a world bent on relaxation and softness. On Hey You and Salt & Pepper, the album's two pre-release leading singles and opening two tracks - subtle grooves meet his swooning vocal and repeated, stripped-away guitar melodies, channelling the softer sounds of his past projects but in a light heavily built around blues and funk foundations. On Lonely Boys Paradise, that blues infusion becomes only more prevalent, while on the long-winding closing track Hey Man, Don't Look At Me Like That, muffled harmonica lays the roots for a spoken word moment quite unlike any of his work in the past - Dope Lemon or not.
In the bio accompanying the album, it becomes clear that Smooth Big Cat is certainly built around these themes of relaxation and carelessness, the smooth big cat "doesn’t have stakes in the troubles of the world," it says. "His life is guided by the mood of the breeze and what’s there in front of him." Throughout the record, it's quite easy to do the same. The calmful pace set by Angus Stone's bass grooves and chiming melodies are easy to lose yourself within, coasting as the album continues and his "dreamy world" becomes more clear. "It’s a long, peachy ride in an 80s Cadillac Limousine, like the one Angus rode to his studio while working on the record. It is beers around the pool table at midnight. It is Angus’ real world," the bio continues. "Smooth Big Cat is that blue moon music, songs for when the eve is about to turn into something special. Music to enhance your moment, a record for wild hearted escapades and fuzzy, melty moments laying back on the rug."
Dive into the album below, with a track-by-track walkthrough from Angus Stone himself. Check him out at Splendour In The Grass this weekend, then headline shows throughout August - more information and tickets HERE.
Hey You was one of those songs we created sailing into a late night in the studio drinking whiskey and just kicking around ideas. I started strumming these dusty little chords & it opened up into this old smokey western little tune. Everything fell into place after that. I love the mood of this little jangly kicker
Salt & Pepper is one of those tunes you can just simmer to. I feel really comfortable in the mood this little number sets. Very blue moon little melty tune. Was another late night hang in the studio just knocking it around at the sound board pulling sounds out of all the instruments I sat down & tracked. Was a good time.
Hey Little Baby lyrically is one of the most honest songs I’ve written in a while. It is close to my heart this one. The world a writer/traveller lives has its big ups & big downs. If you get caught in the storm sometimes you don’t make it home is one of the lyrics that stand out for me. Is one of the more revealing songs I’ve created for sure.
Lonely Boys Paradise is a story of a broke down hotel on an island that is kind of cursed in a way. The concierge is a devil-like character with the piece of paper with your signature on it sort of scenario..though in a humorous sort of way as he shows up in different forms reminding you the island is a place where you can fall in love but never leave. Trippy right?
Give Me Honey, this was a fun song to record. Lots of cool moments tracking all the instruments. The mood is a golden night out with mates drinking beers at your favourite water hole.
Dope & Smoke, the scene I was trying to set with this one ..is you’re all set & ready ..packed the car & heading off down & through the dusty hills in an old car in a cloud of dust driving into the melty hot sun headed to a sparkling blue day at the beach with your girl.
Smooth Big Cat is the most unique song off the record for me. A big part of what this record is the smooth big cat himself & his story. He's a fictional character in one of the songs on the record. He’s this sort of elusive character that lives on the property. The property where I made the record . Where I live. His story he doesn’t sort of have stakes in worrying about all the nonsense in the world. He’s a cool cat ..he just likes staying up late having a drink & listening to old records. He shows up when you need to mellow out & take a step back in life. He represents a cool thing. His character from the song almost became this totem for the record & when I listen to the record I think of what he stands for. So it became the title of the record.
Midnight Slow is a story of a time I lived in NYC. Very moody little vibe this one. One of those songs you can get your pulp fiction dance moves cooking (:
Mechanical Bull it’s the perspective of a voyeur-like character that’s a bit dishevelled, roaming the streets. He wonders into a cowboy bar & falls in love with a very alluring woman on stage shaking her tambourine. He falls into a state of nirvana & the rest is history. He’s feeling mighty peachy
Hey Man, Don’t Look At Me Like That was an old song I recorded with my ex-girlfriend Isabel. We had a little beach shack when we were living together. The poetry in this song is something we used joke around with. She was an aspiring actress & I was starting to step in heavy into my music career. It’s a song that outlines the worlds that we lived in at the time & what we’d observed going on around at the time. Hard to explain this one sometimes but it was some of those moments where it captured something really special we had together. Marks one of the most golden times in my life.
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