Singer Troy Cassar-Daley. Image supplied by Deb Edwards Publicity.
Singer Troy Cassar-Daley. Image supplied by Deb Edwards Publicity. Mik Mccartin

Throat surgery a wake-up call for singer Troy Cassar-Daley

TROY Cassar-Daley learned some hard lessons after undergoing throat surgery.

The 26-time Golden Guitar winner travelled to the US city of Boston to repair his vocal chords a year and a half ago.

"You come back after you've had some time off and you almost feel like a choir boy again because you haven't been belting your vocal chords," Daley tells APN.

"It's something that has taught me a lot about respecting your voice. It's like respecting the guitar, putting new strings on it, cleaning it, looking after it. You can't treat your voice any different.

"It was a wake-up call. I will be pacing myself from now on ... you don't listen when you're 20; when you're 45 you do (laughs)."

The prolonged recovery was especially hard for Daley's wife Laurel.

"She cried when I first talked to her after three weeks of no talking," he says.

"I could write 'I love you' and all that, but when I first said it she just broke down and said 'I can hear your voice again. I thought I'd lost you'.

"I felt like the old wounded lion just lying around with the whiteboard."

His new album Freedom Ride is his first release since the surgery.

"The music to me has become more important because of that," he says.

"When I made this record, no one can hear you're singing any differently but they understand what you've been through to get there again."

Freedom Ride features collaborations with Paul Kelly, Peter Denahy, Colin Buchanan and a duet with Jimmy Barnes.

"It's so nice to have something new to share with everyone," he says.

"I set myself a challenge to find 12 different stories, whether they were parts of my life or parts of other people's.

"They become like 12 good friends, the songs, you know? You live with them like flatmates."

After songwriting sessions with Kelly in Melbourne and Denahy and Buchanan at Daley's farm outside Ipswich, Daley said selecting the final songs for the album was like "leaving your kids at a bus stop".

"I wanted to collaborate. I wanted to pick other people's brains," he says.

"Paul made me think, especially with (the album's title track) Freedom Ride. There was no room for error there. It was a vitally important story to me and I had three minutes and 42 seconds to tell it. You couldn't' just make it fluffy and nice. It had to be told right."

The musicians Daley recorded the album with in Nashville were happy to play songs about something other than "beer, tailgates and tan lines".

Black Mountain, for example, tells the story of Daley's uncle mistakenly visiting a mountain considered taboo by the local Aboriginal community.

"My producer said to me 'You're like a Russell Crowe. You've got to hold up the sword, explain why you're going into battle and unleash hell'," he says.

"I went out with the computer and showed them stuff, you know, this is the grass I'm talking about in this song.

"To let them know what you feel spiritually is a challenge but they totally got it."

Freedom Ride is in stores and online now.

Troy Cassar-Daley plays the Blackall Cultural Centre on May 15, the Warwick Town Hall on June 10, Toowoomba's Empire Theatre on October 30, the Brisbane Powerhouse on November 1, the Lismore City Hall on November 12, the Saraton Theatre Grafton on November 13 and the Twin Towns Services Club in Tweed Heads on November 14.