Since the release of her last album over two years ago, singer/songwriter Ricki-Lee Coulter has kept a relatively low-profile focussing on the crafting of her forthcoming new album. Whilst the tabloids seem to have attempted to invade her personal space, the truth is, Ricki-Lee herself, has been locked away in studios around the world paying close attention to the intricacies of the music she wants to define herself with via her latest album “Dance In The Rain”.
“It’s been a real labour of love. I finished the “Fear & Freedom” album in 2011, did a tour of Australia, went to Japan and released the album out there, literally got back to Australia and packed my bags and went over to LA and NY to start work again on this new record,” she says, all in one breath.
An avid music lover who soundtracks her day-to-day activities with a broad range of music, Ricki-Lee wanted to focus on the width and breadth of pop music for the tracklisting of “Dance In The Rain”. “There are a lot of music snobs out there, but I love everything from novelty songs to really intense obscure and intelligent releases. I like it all, and I like the idea of playing with the extremes of those elements in my own music.
“Pop music has so many different faces, and as people we are all so complex, so it’s very natural for me to change moods and styles to fit with how I’m feeling on any given day. My music certainly reflects all of the different facets of my personality and tastes in music. One day you’re pissed off, the next day you’re on top of the world, the day after that you may be vulnerable and insecure, but the next you feel invincible. Life throws so much at you and I write about it all. Through the 18-months of writing and producing the album I figured I had a lot to say and there were so many things I wanted to express – and I managed to pull it all together for this one album.”
Whilst she says there wasn’t an over-arching theme planned for the new album, and that she focussed on individual song creation, the resulting collection of songs clearly speaks volumes about Ricki-Lee. The lyrics and feel of the music showcase a woman projecting a great deal of determination; an artist with an infectious energy and positivity. “I’m a generally positive person and I like to look on the bright side. I’m ambitious and I like to strive for things, and sometimes go for things beyond my reach, but that’s okay because I want to go for it and challenge myself. I feel this a real representation of who I am at this stage of my life. Even on songs that deal with frustration, heartache, pain and difficult situations – like “Mirage”, “Night Vision” or “Dance In The Rain” – it always comes back to the positive message of never giving up. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable, but at the same time I want to focus on turning vulnerability into strength.
Unlike many pop artists who churn out manufactured albums within weeks, Ricki-Lee’s lengthy gestational process to fine-tune her new album has clearly allowed a certainty regarding quality-control to emerge, and allowed each of the songs on the album to breathe and survive over time. That she has co-written and co-produced all of the songs on “Dance In The Rain” reinforces the extent of Ricki-Lee’s talent and potential as a global pop success. “It’s actually not a new thing for me, I’ve done it previously whether I’ve been credited or not,” she says confidently of her involvement throughout the process. “I’m just the kind of person who is very hands-on. If someone is buying one of my albums I assume they wanna hear me in it – and this album couldn’t be any more me. In making this album no stone was left unturned and every sound, every vocal, every edit and effect has been carefully crafted and balanced over time to get these songs to the point where they are now. These songs are my heart and soul, and I’ve got the greatest team of people that help me bring them all to life….some of these songs we produced 20 different versions of! It was a lengthy process but the end result – I couldn’t be more proud of.”
“Dance In The Rain” is an international-sounding affair, which has been worked on around the world in Sydney, Brisbane, Bali, Sweden, France, Los Angeles and New York. Contributors include such heavyweight studio talents as Stuart Crichton (Kylie, Pet Shop Boys), David Schuler (Pink), Arnthor Birgisson (Janet Jackson), Brian Lee (Lady Ga Ga, Carly Rae Jepson, Icona Pop) and the duo who discovered superstar Rihanna, Sturken & Rogers. “I still pinch myself about working with them, I’ve wanted to work with them for over 10 years!” she says excitedly of her New York-collaboration with Sturken & Rogers. “To have them give me their seal of approval and tell me I was a great songwriter, almost made me cry. To get that kind of validation from people of that calibre, telling me that I was great at what I do was such a confidence boost, and overwhelming in a lot of ways,” she says joyously.
With Stuart Crichton co-producing the bulk of the album alongside Executive Producer Ricki-Lee, “Dance In The Rain” is brimming with pop, dance, R&B and even reggae styles. Ricki-Lee has taken the dynamic energy of artists like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Calvin Harris, Madonna, Beyonce and Lady Gaga, put it in a blender, and given it a down-to-earth Aussie flavour, minus any restrictions, restraints or limitations. “Dance In The Rain” – the album – is the sound of sweet liberation. “I feel like I’m at an age now where I’m not trying to please anybody, this is who I am and I’m not afraid to open up and show that to people anymore. I made this album because this is what I want to say, and this is how I feel. I’m not trying to be anything to anybody other than myself.” From the dramatic and self-affirming title track, through to the feel-good pop of “All We Need Is Love”, the bangin’ club-ready “Until We Drop” and “Diva”, onto the painful and emotive ballad “Mirage”, and the pretty but haunting lullaby “You”, Ricki-Lee’s range and diversity is striking. “GiddyUp” serves up some assertive and intoxicating va-va-voom throughout which Ricki-Lee snatches wigs and declares – tongue-in-cheek – “Gimme my crown I’m Queen of the night”. “The song is a great reflection of the album and me as a person” she says with a mischievous smile. “On the surface it’s pure pop – some might even say novelty – but if you dig below the surface you discover this fierce, strong attitude of a woman who is in charge; a woman who is the boss, and a woman who doesn’t let anyone push her around… and that’s who I am. I like the idea there are two truths in that song – the surface truth, and the deeper truth.”
Alongside the release of Ricki-Lee’s new album, fans will also be able to see the performer on this year’s season of “Dancing With The Stars”, where Ricki will get to incorporate her love of performing with some show-stopping glamour. “Having spent the last 18 months in dark studios and living in my own introspective world of living and breathing the writing of these songs and making music – it’s kind of fun for me to come out of the studio-cave and putting on a sequin dress and cha-cha’ing for my life! she laughs.
“Dance In The Rain” is an encapsulating representation of Ricki-Lee Coulter. Inhibitions released, determination expressed, and the best of what makes pop music so important in our lives – a joyous expression of our desire to be happy without anyone or anything holding us back. The cornerstone of the album, and it’s title track, sums up Ricki-Lee’s successful expression with a perfectly pure eloquence –
No one’s gonna take away these feelings
And no one’s gonna take away my dreams tonight
I don’t need nobody’s damn permission, no
And nobody’s gonna shoot down my ambition
I’m louder than the thunder, swim against the water
And when It comes, I’m gonna
Dance in the rain, no matter what they say
And when the raindrops fall I’ll stand up tall
And feel it on my face
Dance In The Rain, cos this is my parade