You're always speaking, but I never hear what you're saying..." On his gleaming, soulful new single, rising 19-year-old singer-songwriter Budjerah asks: Can we just open up a little? Can we please, just for a minute, talk? Taking a clear cue from his idols and antecedents Sam Cooke and The Clark Sisters -- patron saints of clarity and honesty -- "Talk," Budjerah's new collaboration with Sydney's MAY-A, is an appeal to look up, take a beat, take a breath, and reconnect with your loved ones. A joyful, much-needed tonic for a world riddled with misunderstanding and miscommunication, it's Budjerah's brightest cut yet, a piece of modern R&B with all the warmth and wit of a classic.
He might be young, but there's always been something wise-beyond-his-years about Budjerah. The Coodjinburra musician's debut, self-titled EP, released earlier in 2021, displayed an aptitude for the sheen and indelibility of old-school soul singers, a quality that spoke to the classic records he was raised on growing up in coastal New South Wales. But on "Talk," he takes it up a notch -- this is a song that speaks to the woes of Gen Z while using a lingua franca that can be understood by all. "'Talk' came about from a conversation with MAY-A [where] we were just talking about how a lot of people would rather text than call," Budjerah says of his inspiration behind the track. "It's inspired by the fact that a lot of problems in our lives could be solved by talking openly and honestly, face-to-face, instead of hiding behind screens or lying."
Co-produced by Chris Collins and Budjerah's collaborator and artistic confidante Matt Corby, "Talk" adds a lush, organic edge to Budjerah's unique brand of pop. This is a vibrant, ebullient awakening -- a song you can imagine rumbling out of car speakers and coming alive on festival stages come summer. Inspired by Mariah Carey classics -- "She was the main reference we kept coming back to, I was listening to a lot of Mariah during this process," says Budjerah -- "Talk" is awash in blushing synths, gilded with unexpected and uplifting harp lines. It's injected with a new bounce, a new affinity for tempo, a quality that Budjerah says will define his forthcoming body of work.
"Talk" also showcases the natural chemistry between Budjerah and MAY-A, the 20-year-old singer-songwriter whose genreless brand of pop is making waves at home and overseas. "Talk" is a natural home for MAY-A's warm, rough-hewn vocals, which have the inimitable rasp of so many soul divas past. "MAY-A's just the coolest person, I was a little bit nervous to meet her," Budjerah says. "She's really down to earth, and an incredible singer and songwriter, and just so much fun to work with."
In all, "Talk" is a celebration -- of love and life, but also of Budjerah's phenomenal past 12 months, a run from his debut single, October 2020's "Missing You," which has seen him garner widespread support from radio (#1 most played on triple j, Top 30 national airplay); perform on The Sound, Music From The Home Front, and at the AFL Dreamtime match; be named an Apple Music Up Next artist; and collaborate with dance music superstars PNAU. Budjerah's personal highlights include supporting local luminaries including The Avalanches, Thelma Plum, Jack River and Lime Cordiale, and performing to a sold out crowd in Sydney who sang along adoringly to all his songs. "It was always my dream come true to perform to hundreds of people, and now it's right in front of me," Budjerah says. It makes sense: Budjerah's music makes dreams feel like shining, tactile reality.