Ziggy Alberts didn’t pick up a guitar until the age of 16. Up until that point, he had only considered becoming a dentist or an engineer. But after his parents gifted him a guitar, the native of Queensland, Australia began busking and developing his skills as a musician, eventually releasing his 2012 EP titled Feels Like Home. Shortly after, he founded his own record label, Commonfolk Records.
Alberts described his fifth studio album, searching for freedom, to Genius as “an expression of an adventure that I’ve realized will last a lifetime.” The 12 tracks reflect themes that Alberts has explored in his earlier music. He sings about love, both lost and found, unity, and the environment, all while he continues to develop his sound.
Of the four singles released in searching for freedom, two contain critiques of society’s response to the environmental crises and messages of unity for healing global divisions. In the first few lines of “together,” Alberts wonders why “We seem to be / More concerned with our flags / And nationalities / Oh, than we are / With unity or love.” In the second verse, he brings environmental issues to the forefront, singing, “I wonder why / We seem to be / More concerned with selling water to private companies / Oh, than we are / With the health of / The rivers where we’re drinking from.”
While his lyrics here call upon his home country, the same sentiment can be felt by anyone who listens to his music, especially as debates surrounding climate change and environmental sustainability have become prevalent in recent years. But Alberts gives the song a positive tone in the chorus: “I will stand beside you, won’t let hate reside here / Lock hands together in the crowd … / In hard times, each of us know how / Throw fear aside, regrowth can come along.”
Alberts’ thoughts on modern society are reflected in “don’t get caught up.” In a few especially salient lines, he notes, “Can you believe that we are still arguing / When we should trust each other more than we trust our screens?” Backed by a single acoustic guitar, Alberts pleads with his audience in the chorus, “Don’t get caught up / Letting the news tear each other apart / Fear’s making money, but doing nothing for us.” It is with authentic lyrics and easy flowing melodies like this that Alberts manages to separate himself from the ever-growing group of independent singer-songwriters.
But, searching for freedom wouldn’t be a real Alberts album without its fair share of sweet and heartfelt love songs—“chocolate” is one such track. With a waltzy feel backed by an electric guitar and minimal production, Alberts croons, “I just want you / And I just want two / I need more time off with you / To turn you on.” Like “chocolate,” “chemistry” finds Alberts completely head over heels for his lover. Paired with acoustic guitar and subtle harmonies, he elucidates the feelings that come with a true, deep love, adding yet another love song to his repertoire.
On the title track, “searching for freedom,” Alberts is on a quest for his own identity. Though somewhat abstract, the chorus summarizes this track well: “Moments to grow / Of places to heal / Of everything everyone’s expecting of me / Searching for freedom / Slowing down time.” Admittedly these are not the most original lyrics, but Alberts sings with such emotion that it’s hard not to connect with the message behind the track. Alberts supports this final track through a simple acoustic guitar progression, a banjo, a ukulele, and even a muted horn section, making “searching for freedom” one of the more comprehensive songs on the album.
While a few tracks on searching for freedom lack unique details that could create a more intimate listening experience, Alberts ultimately delivers exactly what his fans have come to expect. The Australian singer-songwriter successfully captures feelings of love and unity, while keeping the tracks stripped-down and minimally produced, making another fine addition to an already heartfelt and impressive discography.
Photo Courtesy of Commonfolk