By Rebecca Belt
THE Wide Horizon could well be one of the most highly anticipated albums on the Australian country music calendar for 2017.
Singer-songwriter Darren Coggan is back with a range of songs that blend to form a work that makes you want to slide it into your car stereo and hit the road. As well as celebrating the country we live in and a couple of songs that have defined Australian music, The Wide Horizon also celebrates Darren’s love for his wife and children.
“The album overall is a really very accurate representation and picture of who I am in my life,” Darren said.
“With Peace Train (the Cat Stevens show), I have travelled a lot and it’s opened my eyes to a new audience and new way of performance and reaching out to people. This album really represents those last few years.”
Seventeen is about Darren’s wife, Danielle, as they were 17 when they met at high school in their hometown of Wagga Wagga.
“She has been incredibly supportive through my career and I certainly wouldn’t have had a career without her,” he said.
“The songs all come from pure places in the writer’s lives and I hope that other people can relate to the songs because they are about things that I think are unique to me, but other people come and say that’s their story as well. They’re truly the great songs, that come from a pure place and are universal.”
The track, A Beautiful Ride, Darren wrote for his children as a Christmas gift.
“I think they were expecting skateboard or something, but I’ve found that, as they’re both in high school and they’re growing up so fast, I am wanting to embrace everyday and make everyday count,” he said.
“The song is about telling the ones you love that you love them and letting them know that even though I don’t have all the answers or can protect from everything, but that I’ll be there whenever I can. The song has a really deep meaning for me.”
The final track, Inasmuch, is a duet with fellow singer-songwriter Felicity Urquhart who, like Darren, is also a presenter on Sydney Weekender. The song celebrates the heritage of Norfolk Island and how recent decisions by the Australian Government have affected the residents.
“It’s about the way the Australian Government has trivialised their dedication to their homeland and took away their governing powers,” he said.
“They have treated the people like all that history and heritage doesn’t mean anything, but the residents are very gentle, peaceful people and their heritage and homeland is everything to them. I thought we would have learned by now. There is obviously two sides to the story, but Norfolk Island is a place that is special to me because it kickstarted my career when I won the very first Trans Tasman Entertainer of the Year and have been back numerous times.”
Darren wrote the song after the album was finished, but he rang producer Ben Edgar and asked to put one more song on the album.
The singer-songwriter has also covered Australia Crawl’s classic, Reckless.
“I’ve loved that song since I was a teenager,” he said.
“The version that we did on the record was a result of (producer) Ben Edgar encouraging me to take a bit of a different slant on it. It’s always a nerve-wracking thing when you take on a song that is so ingrained in the Australian psyche; you want to stay respectful to the song and make it yours a little bit and not take it too far. I’m really excited by that song.”
The singer-songwriter has not only been recognised in the country music industry with awards, but the Glen Innes Celtic Festival has bestowed the honour of Male Artist of the Year for the second consecutive year, in 2017. His song Scotland snatched the honour at the festival in the town of Darren’s birth, celebrating all things Celtic.
“I’ve done the Celtic Festival for five or six years as I was born in Glen Innes and I’ve still got a lot of family there,” he said.
“I’ve been compering the Celtic Music Awards for about five years and thought I’d enter my song, Scotland, which is about my family heritage. Mum’s side of the family is Scottish and the song is about how the Fletcher clan came out to Glen Innes and settled.
“To have that recognised the other night, I was absolutely chuffed. It was even more special because it was in the town I was born in and a nice way to get the album out and about.”
The award comes in the middle of the national Peace Train tour and, in September, the show goes international when Darren tours it through the UK.
“It’s incredibly exciting with 18 theatres booked through Scotland and England,” he said.
“Towards the end of this year, I’m hoping to do some shows with the new album and then we’ll be ramping up into Tamworth Country Music Festival. I’ll be there for the duration and then we’ll tour The Wide Horizon and give Peace Train a spell.”
The highly talented, award-winning former Star Maker winner and all-round nice bloke said The Wide Horizon was all about second chances because everyone had ups and downs, but “at the end of it all, the sun will still come up tomorrow, but the horizon is always there to look to.”
It’s a positive way to live your life and the album is a great celebration of this mantra.