Eight years after Stone’s last solo record, Sixty Summers arrives as a powerful rebirth for one of Australia’s most prolific artists. Emerging from the wildernesses of folk and indie-rock, with Sixty Summers Stone dives headfirst into the cosmopolitan, hedonistic world of late-night, moonlit pop. The stunning album brings us the grit and glitter of the city, with all its attendant joys, dangers, romances and risks. It is Stone at her truest, brightest self, a revered icon finally sharing her long, secret love affair with this vibrant and complex genre.
Recorded sporadically over five years from 2015 to 2019, Sixty Summers was shaped profoundly by Stone’s key collaborators on the album: Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman, and Annie Clark, the Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and producer known as St. Vincent. Bartlett and Clark were the symbiotic pair Stone needed to realise her first pop vision. A wizard of production and songwriting, Bartlett helped coax Sixty Summers’ independent, elemental spirit from Stone, writing and recording over 50 demos with her at his studio in New York. Itself a thoroughfare for indie rock luminaries, some of whom, such as The National’s Matt Berninger and Bryce Dessner, ended up on the album, Bartlett’s studio was perfect fertile ground for Stone’s growth. “Making this record with Thomas, I felt so free. I can hear it in the music,” says Stone. “He brings a sense of confidence to recording sessions.”
Clark was the incisive yang to Bartlett’s yin, a sharp musical polymath who, when presented with the work Bartlett and Stone had made together, quickly helped fashion Sixty Summers into the album it was destined to be. Contributing vocals and guitar in addition to production, Clark’s revered acidic touch ignited the sparks of Stone’s creations. Of Stone, Clark comments, “Jules is the best. We were always fond of each other from afar, but after working on this, we became great friends. She's a brilliant girl — tenacious, perfectionistic, so smart. All fire.”
The scope of Sixty Summers is dizzyingly vast; miles away from Stone’s past work, it is a world unto itself, a surreal and breathtaking new landscape. Where Stone’s previous solo records, 2010’s The Memory Machine and 2014’s By The Horns, found her grappling with the natural darkness that comes with loving too much, Sixty Summers finds Stone claiming every part of herself: fire, fury, love, lust, longing. Touching on reference points as disparate as the avant-funk of Talking Heads (on ‘Break’) the romantic 2am musings of Serge Gainsbourg (‘Free’, ‘Dance’) and the sleek, ecstatic synth work of Lorde’s Melodrama (‘Substance’), Sixty Summers is an album you can dance to and one you can lose yourself in completely.