T. R. U. T. H.
“It was a confidence thing. I didn't write for ages,” Guy Sebastian tells Apple Music. Prior to working on T.R.U.T.H., the Sydney pop artist severed ties with his former management, leading the singer down a dark path of self-doubt that, for the first time in his 17-year career, stopped him from writing songs. “I was a bit heartbroken, more sad than angry when it all went down,” he says. “It felt weirdly like a divorce. There were so many unknowns and I had no confidence. Mentally, I had the yips that sportsmen get.” It took time, effort, and patience, but the singer and songwriter eventually found his feet—and his creativity—again. Musically, his ninth album is rich and warm, drawing on soul, gospel, and blues alongside the pop hits and ballads that are something of a signature for him. Thematically, it revolves around honesty, personal strength, and love—not just for others, but for yourself. “I think the power of truth became really evident in my life during that time and it actually filled me with tons of confidence,” he says. “The album title, and even the accompanying image, is just so perfect for what I feel. It's that realization that truth really is powerful and that it's your friend—when you're on the right side of it, anyway.” Below, he talks through each track on T.R.U.T.H. Before I Go “It was the first song I wrote when I sat down to officially write for the album, and it was the thing that set the whole tone for the rest. I always describe it as my fight song. It’s that thing that reminded me that no one can put a ceiling on what you do, or an expiry date. It’s my ‘rise above’ song. It filled me with a massive amount of confidence, because I could sit down and write that, and then I guess my gauge went at that point.” Believer “It’s a song for [my wife] Jules really. It's about those emo moments that we go through in relationships sometimes where we get down on ourselves and get a little bit self-deprecating, and say that we're not good enough for the other person, and they'd be better off with someone else. We went through a few things, as every couple does, where you start to get that sentiment and you're not speaking each other's love languages and you start to doubt that you're the right person for that other person. So I basically wrote that as a reminder to Jules that she can preach that point all she wants but she'll never make me a believer.” Choir “It was about a mate of mine, Luke, he passed away and had a real battle with mental health. I sat down to write a ballad initially, but it didn't feel right, and I just couldn't get through it. So I thought I'd rather write something that's more of a celebration of him and what he's gone through, and used his memory as a reminder to look out for one another. I struggle with certain parts. There’s a lyric in the bridge—‘Someday I know, my friend, I'm going to see you again/And when I do you better have a part for me/You sing the melody and I'll sing the harmony.’ He was an incredibly giving person, and that lyric is always a tough lyric to get through.” I'm Your Man “It’s the only song I haven't written on one of my albums for a very long time. I just struggle to resonate with stuff that's been written by somebody else. But then when I learnt of who wrote it, I knew why I resonated with it so much—it was DNA, who are an Aussie duo, and [songwriter] Sarah Aarons. She’s an absolute beast and incredible talent. So it was a no-brainer. I just loved the song immediately, and I love that it's not trying to be anything, it's not trying to go to that huge chorus—it's just a really soulful melody the whole way through.” Standing With You “I wrote this during COVID, in late March, with Jamie Hartman in LA. It was the last flight I was on, the last time I was on a plane, just before they closed all the borders and everything. I was en route to the writing session in an Uber, and I saw this post from my cousin about his journey with depression. And then he went into all the things that made it better and helped him. So I got into the session and I said to Jamie, ‘Mate, would you mind if we wrote a song for people who are feeling isolated right now, people who are feeling like they're alone.’ We both cried in the studio, which is not something that happens all the time.” Only Thing Missing “I also wrote this one during COVID. It’s really just a jam. I wrote it with [songwriting duo] The Orphanage over Zoom; that was the first song I've written via that process. Trevor [Brown] was in Orange County, Zaire [Koalo] was in LA somewhere, and I was in Maroubra. We just did it from scratch and started playing instruments all on our own, but we had this software where we could listen to each other in real time. It’s a really cool way to write, and I guess it's cognizant of the time that we're going through. I'll always listen to that song in the future and think about COVID and that process.” Love on Display “It's not terribly personal, it's just a sentiment that I feel like we all can do with. That unashamed, unencumbered feeling of just getting out there and being proud of your relationship in all shapes and sizes. I needed something a bit of a feel-good escape after something that was more of a deep song like ‘Standing With You.’” Who I Love “I wanted to write something that was a really simple and beautiful way of saying, ‘You're enough, I don't want anything else. Your flaws are what make you beautiful. I don't want anything else, that's who I fell in love with.’” In a World (feat. Shungudzo) “I'd probably say my favorite song. I wrote it for [my son] Archie. I wrote it with Shungudzo, who's just an incredible person, obviously an incredible artist as well. She’s the first Black female gymnast to represent Zimbabwe; she's a proper high achiever. And then obviously she's an incredible singer, an incredible artist. We wrote that song after a school shooting. So there's a line that anchors that content which is ‘In a world where it's safe to go outside, it's where we're supposed to be/Where teachers can just teach instead of training for a tragedy.’ It’s basically just a prayer for my children, saying I want to give them that world, and I wish I could. I wish I could give them a world that's safer, that isn't so full of conflict or moronic, divisive leaders. I think it's every parent's wish: to have a safe place for their kids.” Let Me Drink (feat. The HamilTones & Wale) “I reckon I wrote that song in about eight minutes. I had The HamilTones coming in to do some background vocals on the album—they are just the most incredible singers. We flew them to LA. The night before they got there, I thought to myself, ‘I'm an idiot, why don't I write something that's completely catered to them?’ It just sounds like soul, like it's old-school church. That call-and-answer thing is in my blood. Then when it took life the next day in the studio, I was beside myself. I literally didn't even have to explain it to them.” If He Won’t “I wrote it with Tobias Jesso Jr. He’s Canadian but he married a local artist in Australia and they live in Byron; they're full hippie. They grow everything on their property, it's like an old church that they've converted into a house. There's no internet, no phone coverage, there was one power point in the room where we wrote, and an upright piano, so if we wanted to look up any analogies or anything, even synonyms, we couldn't access the internet. So it was this really organic process. It’s basically a friend-zone song. When you're friends with a crush, and you just so badly want to rat on the person they're with so that you can cut their lunch. There's so much you want to say, but you're trying to be the bigger person.” Fantasize “The production is so layered, it's just so lush. That's the Orphanage boys again, and there’s no way I couldn't put it on the album. I weirdly feel like it was a song that was already there. I know there's probably a lot of songwriters that have that process. I was singing it going, ‘No, that's a song already. I swear that's a song.’ It was coming out, and I felt like that top line already existed—I was literally just singing out loud what I thought the song should be over that music. So it came out really quick and that was done super fast.”