20 Aug 2016

Steve Abel in session

From RNZ Music, 2:05 pm on 20 August 2016

Songwriter and Greenpeace activist Steve Abel joins Nick Bollinger in the studio with his band to play a couple of songs from his new album Luck/Hope.

The winner of 'Saddest Song In The World' in Berlin in 2009, Steve Abel has taken seven years to release the follow up to 2008's Flax Happy. There's nothing happy about the songs on Luck/Hope.

"I'm a happy person" says Abel. "But I don't feel the need to express happiness in song. I had a conversation with [film-maker and writer] Gabriel White about this - he said there's a difference between sadness and melancholy as a place to occupy."

Steve Abel

Steve Abel Photo: supplied

Part of this album was written and recorded in New York when he was there in November 2009. "They were post-financial crisis, and the world seemed particularly uncertain - perhaps not even as uncertain as it feels now. But I did have this feeling of - that 'Not Going Anywhere' idea is both a comfort and also an awful feeling, like it's always been like this, and it goes round and round, and it can be a release, a freedom, but it could also be a sense of being trapped. And I wanted that song to work both ways."

Part of the lag between his albums is due to his other occupation as a spokesperson for Greenpeace. "that activist work is all consuming" says Abel. "You do get weary of speaking in sound bites when you're the spokesperson for a cause, and you're not able to delve into the complexities and nuances of life when you're in that advocacy role. Whereas with songs - for me that's the best thing it can do, articulate the doubt and uncertainties as well as the joys."

"On a personal level I've needed both of those things to stay sane."

Hear the interview with Nick Bollinger, as well as three songs played live with Reb Fountain and Jonathan Pearce at the audio button above.

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  • Luck/Hope by Steve Abel

    Music Details

    Artist: Steve Abel
    Song: Best Thing, Dance
    Composer: S. Abel
    Album: RNZ Music Recording
    Label: RNZ Music Recording