CJ Stranger releases new album (and you can even buy it on cassette)

He may be a relatively new Blue Mountains resident but singer-songwriter CJ Stranger is already excited by impact the area will have on his music.

Listeners may have to wait a little longer to discover for themselves, however.

"The Blue Mountains is incredibly inspiring," he said, "however as I've only been a local for a year the songs (on my latest album) were written 'pre-Mountains'. But I'm excited to now begin working on some new material.

"The Mountains has always been somewhere I've come to record my music though," he said. "I find the clear air and bush a great backdrop for capturing songs and so a lot of the vocals on the album were recorded in my friend's solar-powered cabin studio."

Titled Hey Stranger, Stranger worked on the album for three years and has enjoyed hearing it gain airplay on Triple J and other radio stations like FBI.

"I think most of all though it's nice to hear how much my friends and fellow musicians have been enjoying it and connecting with the record. Also it's been really encouraging to hear which songs connect with different people and have meaning for them," he said.

Adding an old school touch to the release of Hey Stranger, music lovers can purchase the album on cassette - just as another old format - vinyl - continues to make a comeback.

"I would love to do vinyl but with the current circumstances of no gigs I'm not confident I could sell them right now and the upfront costs are so steep," said Stranger. "Tape on the other hand is much cheaper to make and is a cool physical medium for music that seems to be making a return. It also seemed much more exciting than printing CDs. I actually like the sound of tape and like how the album sounds on it. It definitely has a bit of a retro lo-fi vibe, which reminds me of some of my favourite old school albums."

Hey Stranger's influences range from country and rock to roots music.

"My roots are definitely in blues music which I grew up listening to so there's always that influence in my guitar playing. However, I also toured in an indie rock band for a year in 2018 and that reminded me about how fun it is to rock out, so that definitely impacted the rockier moments on the record," he said.

"I'm glad that it seems to appeal to a bunch of different people who have different tastes in music as in the end I believe good songs should stand on their own regardless of genre."

While being a musician during a pandemic has raised numerous challenges, Stranger can also see an upside.

"It's been a shame to not have gigs and I realise how much I miss the music community because being out at venues and hanging out is how you connect and encourage one another," he said.

"At the same time though I think a lot of beautiful work will come out of this COVID period as many artists were stuck at home. I'm thankful for the extra time to finish mixing my album.

"It's been cool to see artists, venues and bookers figuring out how to keep live music alive at this time and I was super grateful to be part of the Love Local Live livestream concert series put on by Fusion Boutique Presents and Blue Mountains City Council. I've just started having a few gigs booked for my band so I'm looking forward to getting out there and sharing these songs with people."

For more details visit CJ Stranger's website.