NATALIE Imbruglia pays tribute to influential male singers on her long-awaited new album.
The singer's first release in six years, also her first with new label Sony Masterworks, sees her cover a range of artists including Tom Petty, Daft Punk, The Cure, Cat Stevens, Neil Young and Australa's own Josh Pyke.
It is appropriately titled Male.
"Originally it was going to be my favourite artists of all time, men and women," Imbruglia tells APN.
"It's funny how it morphed into something different organically by listening to the songs and realising it was more fun to do songs by men than to tackle some of my favourite female artists.
"Truth be told more female artists have influenced me musically, but they were almost too sacred to touch. I felt like it was almost putting myself up for comparison.
"When you flip the sex you're listening to the song as a different interpretation and that sounded more fun to me."
Producer Billy Mann challenged Imbruglia with the stripped-back arrangement of The Cure's Friday I'm In Love.
"I was really scared about his suggestion for Friday I'm in Love, but once I actually sang it and had so much fun I thought this is just the perfect flip of this song," she says.
"I also found Damien Rice's Cannonball quite intimidating to tackle. He is such a unique sounding artist."
Josh Pyke is the sole Australian artist on the album. His song The Summer is a nod to Imbruglia's Aussie roots.
After rising to fame on Neighbours, her debut album Left of the Middle (featuring the hit song Torn) earned Imbruglia three Grammy nominations, a Billboard Music Award and six ARIA Awards.
She has based herself in London for more than two decades.
"I'm very much drawn to a song for the lyric; the story behind a song is how I connect to it emotionally," she says.
"The Summer embodied a feeling of Australia that reminded me of my childhood. As someone who grew up on the Central Coast, it just spoke to me."
Imbruglia's choice to release a covers album after several years away from the spotlight was a strategic one.
"I had writer's block for five years and did not want to write a song," she says.
"So I secretly hoped doing this covers album was going to get me back into songwriting, which it did. I have eight new demos."
Male is out today.
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