Dan Sultan is edging four years since the release of his last album, 2009's Get Out While You Can.
By anyone's measure, four years is a long time. In the music business it is practically a lifetime.
Four years took The Beatles from the good-natured jangle of A Hard Day's Night to the all-out weirdness of The White Album. Bowie's transformation from shaggy-haired astrofolkie to Ziggy Stardust was completed in a shorter stretch.
And so it is that Melbourne musician Dan Sultan is edging four years since the release of his last album, 2009's Get Out While You Can. That record, his second, won him ARIA Awards for Best Blues and Roots Album and Male Artist of the Year, alongside an even pair of AIR Awards and another pair of Deadlys.
With listeners' interest piqued and expectation building for a follow-up, Sultan came up against a creative block which left him without any new material at all.
''I tried to ignore it," Sultan remembers. "I guess I thought that something would come up in one form or another eventually."
Sultan remained active, touring in his own right and as a core member of the indigenous music and theatre company the Black Arm Band, which also features Archie Roach and No Fixed Address founder Bart Willoughby. Behind all this though, his creative dry spell continued.
"I used to write with someone else, but that relationship broke down," Sultan explains. "There was [material] that I came up with, which I was either told was no good or assumed that it was no good. I was not inspired to write."
Sultan says, ultimately, knocking his writer's block on the head required him "making a few changes in my life and getting a bit more control. It was just a matter of getting my shit together, really".
From there, the levee broke and the songs began pouring out of Sultan's pen.
"It ended up being the most creatively fruitful period I've experienced," he says. "It went from three years without much to eight to 12 months of writing more music than I'd ever come up with before."
Armed with a clutch of 30-odd new songs, Sultan and his rhythm section headed for Nashville, Tennessee, and producer Jacquire King, whose CV includes Tom Waits, Norah Jones, Kings of Leon and Modest Mouse. Given the workload they had set for themselves, the musicians didn't see much more than the four walls of the studio.
"We didn't do much exploration," Sultan says. "But there was one day where I went for a drive out on the backroads of Tennessee and found this waterfall and went for a swim. It's a beautiful part of the world."
But the Australian musicians' graft paid off, resulting in a record that Sultan summarises in 2½ words: rock'n'roll.
"It's guitar-based and there's a lot of big voice work," he elaborates. "With every album you evolve, you go for a bigger sound. But at the end of the day, all of the new songs work with just a guitar and a voice - and then they can be played as a three-piece or with the full band."
With the album complete bar a final bit of mixing, Sultan anticipates it will see the light of day in the early months of next year. Though he talks about the record with enthusiasm and confidence, he does admit to some slight jitters, wondering what listeners will make of his labour of love.
"It is a bit scary," he considers, "but that's how you know you're heading in the right direction. I don't like being too comfortable."
WHEN: Saturday, October 26, 6.30pm
WHERE: The Abbey, Gold Creek
TICKETS: $30+bf from theabbey.com.au or 6230 2905