Elton John has a career full of songs embraced by others and Delta Goodrem returns the favour on her new album Bridge Over Troubled Dreams.

In Dear Elton, Goodrem addresses the superstar not only lyrically, but musically, with a bombastic piano solo inspired by his mastery of the instrument.

"It had to be epic," Goodrem tells SMARTdaily of the solo, unlike any she's committed to record in a career now seven albums deep.

"It's an ode to Elton but still with my fingerprints on it."

In 2003, an 18-year-old Goodrem was enjoying major success here and the UK with her debut album Innocent Eyes when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Elton sent flowers and a note to her in hospital, then called the day after she left to recover from treatment.

‘His words will stay with me.’ Delta Goodrem says Elton John has had a huge impact on her career. Picture: Carlotta Moye
‘His words will stay with me.’ Delta Goodrem says Elton John has had a huge impact on her career. Picture: Carlotta Moye

"He reached out to me when I was just starting out as an artist, then as fate would have it he called me on the first day of my chemotherapy treatment.

"That stayed with me. I was very impressionable, and people like Elton and Olivia (Newton-John) teach you what it is to be a great artist and a great mentor.

"Elton's continued support of the community and younger artists helped make me who I am today, and it's important for me to support and be kind to artists because there's plenty of room for everybody."

 

OWN YOUR OWN HISTORY

Dear Elton also doubles as a letter to Goodrem herself. She questions choices made in her life their impact on her career ("it sends shivers through me, I don't think I've ever been so brutal to myself in a song") while finally forgiving herself.

"I'm someone who continues to work on themselves to be better, like an athlete. I'm definitely speaking to myself in this song, but really owning my story."

At the end of 2019 Goodrem saw Elton on his farewell Australian tour just as she was midway through writing and recording Bridge Over Troubled Dreams.

"It was overwhelming, I had happy tears the entire show."

Months later she emailed Dear Elton to the superstar, detailing the connection she's felt with him musically and personally.

"I got a note back that I'll treasure forever," Goodrem says. "His words will stay with me, I'm so thankful for the kindness he continues to show."

 

Delta Goodrem is a Jeff Buckley fan. Picture: Carlotta Moye
Delta Goodrem is a Jeff Buckley fan. Picture: Carlotta Moye

EVERYONE'S FAMOUS

Another new song, Everyone's Famous, also moves away from what many may expect. It reflects on the modern desire for fame and ends with a chaotic explosion of guitar and vocals that recalls Jeff Buckley.

"Jeff is a genuine inspiration, Grace is one of my favourite albums of all time," Goodrem says. "It gets quite primal in that song. I enjoy letting loose and being imaginative. Hopefully people can start to see me as the artist I am in my heart."

Other influences on the album, which was recorded with a full live band, include Coldplay's Ghost Stories as well as Adele, Tori Amos, Joe Cocker, Bishop Briggs, Annie Lennox and Stevie Nicks.

"I had to allow myself to be authentic, to be challenged," she says. "I learned more on this record than I had in many years, from going back to basics and being in a space of truthfulness. I wasn't trying to chase trends or find something that was the right tempo for everyone. I wanted to be true to the inspirations I love, tap back into the music that really sets my heart on fire."

 

 

Delta Goodrem with Matthew Copley at the Sydney Opera House in January. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
Delta Goodrem with Matthew Copley at the Sydney Opera House in January. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

STOP AND REWIND

While Goodrem doesn't talk about her personal relationship with Matthew Copley, despite the pair hiding in plain sight on stage and social media, their working relationship moves to the next level with Bridge Over Troubled Dreams.

After the pair recorded and produced Goodrem's Christmas album Only Santa Knows last year, Copley co-produces and co-writes the bulk of Bridge, as well as playing guitar.

"He's been an incredible influence on this record," Goodrem says. "He's one of the best guitarists I've ever worked with. His talent first and foremost is really shining on this record. When you have two musicians in a house you're continually playing music you love or music that inspires you. To be in the music industry you have to passionately love music.

"We started listening to Frank and Nancy Sinatra, a lot of 70s records, we were finding artists we both loved, sounds we loved, records we loved. Me with Jeff Buckley, our shared love of Elton. We created this teamwork of recording, writing, playing and producing, we ended up being a real team on this record."

Bridge Over Troubled Dreams, the album and book, are out now. Listening session Newcastle today, Brisbane Wednesday. National tour starts September 24, see deltagoodrem.com for tickets and details

 

 

Cover of Delta Goodrem album Bridge Over Troubled Dreams pic Sony
Cover of Delta Goodrem album Bridge Over Troubled Dreams pic Sony

 

 

ALBUM REVIEW

BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED DREAMS

Here Delta follows her heart not just the chart - always the right path. The cautionary tale Everyone's Famous mixes a kids choir with a Jeff Buckley inspired guitar-driven melody; her voice soaring to a chaotic climax unlike anything you've heard from her until now. Dear Elton channels the piano man's emotive '70s balladry with a flamboyant and hectic ivory workout; we're used to Goodrem's trademark poise and control, it's nice to hear born to fly. Kill Them With Kindness recalls Annie Lennox's empowered gospel pop, The Power adds some grunt to proceedings and the experimentation continues on Play, with precise but powerful vocals. Half the album has already been singles - the Beatles-esque, uber-personal Paralyzed up with her very finest work (not something all pop stars can say nearly 20 years into a career) and remind us again why the Fleetwood Mac-esque hookfest Solid Gold wasn't a Top 10 hit?

Four stars

 

 

Originally published as Delta on Elton: 'His words will stay with me'