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Doubling Up

by Ara Jensen

from West Australian Revue, 21 July 1994

A seasoned performer in his own right and to date his own producer, Stephen Cummings has taken the new step of allowing the outside world in for his latest record. Listen to the soon to be released Falling Swinger and there's little doubt the hand firmly on the tiller is none other than The Church's Steve Kilbey.

Maybe it was coincidence, fate or the fact that Cummings and Kilbey share a September 13 birthday that they came together for the album. Kilbey also has his own studio and was keen on what Cummings had written for what became Falling Swinger.

When they first got together Cummings says Kilbey would sit and read Hindu scriptures while drinking cartons of custard. It got him worried.

"The first thing Steve said to me was: 'I really like the songs - you are not precious about them are you? I mean if something does not work you do another one'," says Cummings. "We had the same kind of thinking like that.

"I liked being interested and enthusiastic and not too precious to try different stuff. He has eclectic tastes and was game to try anything. At this stage of my life so am I."

Kilbey's part in the project also meant, as producer, he could deal with all the outside forces leaving the singer to concentrate on the task at hand. It was also a chance to have totally fresh input for the material.

"I could sit in the backyard and read the paper and have a good talk to Steve. When we started I found out he had the same birthday. It was a bit spooky but the other side was that we had a good connection. He's a total music fan and would know what I mean."

The only song on the album Cummings did not write comes from Kilbey and it is appropriately called September 13.

The subject material of the album was a reflection of what Cummings was interested in at the time and is executed both with a band or just acoustic guitar. Cummings cites Falling Swinger as a specially personal record for its exploration of inevitability and about things falling apart.

Wry incisive lyrics and seductive melodies are characteristic of Cummings' writing style. Now it comes lovingly washed with Kilbey's ambient emotion and classic guitar giving the package a sensuous easy flow.

"I put them together like that. At the same time I was thinking of doing a whole album of piano, atmosphere and an existential mood. Something like a John Cassavetes meets blues record."

Above all Cummings says his main aim is to enjoy making music - making it under his own terms.

"People look at records as a way to get somewhere. It's a platform to the next step. I don't do it like that, I take it for what it is. I think of it in the old fashioned notion of enjoying it. Each one is a little different for me."

Cummings says he and Steve Kilbey will work together again.

"I even suggested I could be a backing person for The Church!"

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