Some songs become instant obsessions, thanks to some alchemical combination that is impossible to pinpoint and equally impossible to resist. ‘Run Out of Road’, the new single from Melanie Dyer – whose most recent single, ‘Memphis T-Shirt’, has had over 2.4 million streams – is one of those songs. At the first listen you’ll smile. Then you’ll immediately listen again, and keep smiling, then you’ll try to stop listening another time but that will just make you crave it more. A musical craving can be as strong as any, and the only way to satisfy it is to listen to that song again and again.
For those in lockdown ‘Run Out of Road’ is a fantasy – because we can’t go anywhere – but it’s also a remedy, because its primary function seems to be to bring joy. Its secondary function may be to remind us of what awaits us once we can get back on the road.
‘I wrote “Run Out of Road” during Nashville’s winter, in February 2020,’ says Dyer. ‘Going straight from our heat to their snow, I wanted to hold on to the summer a little longer. At the time it was about capturing that freedom to explore and travel. When lockdown set in, the song took on a whole new meaning. I think it now serves as a soundtrack to get us through these difficult times until we can get back to the simple things like road tripping down the coast for a weekend.’
When asked if the lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria gave her pause about releasing the song, she says, ‘I didn’t consider holding back on the release because of lockdowns. If anything, I thought we needed a song like this to lift our spirits.’
Dyer has a well-developed, and impressive, country-pop sound. She says that the ‘country side of me comes from growing up on a farm in regional NSW. Being surrounded by the land and being close to Tamworth meant I had country music around me so I picked up a guitar and began writing songs from the age of 11.
‘The pop side developed in my teens when I spent more time in the city and started listening to commercial radio (something I didn’t really have growing up). Artists like Taylor Swift, Shania Twain and Keith Urban were my earliest country pop influences.’
Dyer wrote the song with Forest Glen Whitehead and Dan Fernandez; she’s an experienced co-writer, and recently co-wrote Amber Lawrence’s new single ‘Bring it Back’ with Amber.
‘I do a lot of co-writing both here in Australia and in Nashville,’ Dyer explains. ‘Zoom has been an amazing tool to stay connected and continue collaborating during lockdown (Amber and I wrote ‘Bring It Back’ on Zoom!).’
When asked if she feels as proud of one of her songs when someone else records it as when she records herself, Dyer says, ‘Songwriting is so much a part of who I am and it’s such a rewarding feeling to hear someone else singing a song you co-wrote on the radio or on a playlist. It’s definitely something I feel proud of.’
As for her writing process, Dyer says, ‘I have a stack of ideas/melodies or “one-liners” in my phone that I will sift through in a session either for myself or for others. If I’m co-writing for someone else, I’ll always allow time for the artist to bring their thoughts to the table first so that I know the song will be personal to them. Sometimes I rock up with no ideas and it will be completely organic based on how everyone’s feeling in the room that day.’
Dyer released her album Fresh in 2017, and her fans are no doubt hoping for a new album soon – with hopes that ‘Run Out of Road’ might be a signal that it’s coming.
‘It’s been a few years,’ says Dyer, ‘but so much has happened in that time and I’m really excited about the next chapter! Some of my best work is yet to come and an album is definitely on the cards next year.’
The accompanying video for ‘Run Out of Road’ was filmed in June this year, in Sydney’s Surry Hills and the Royal National Park south of Sydney. For those who are missing their long drives, it should tide you over – or make you envious. If it’s the latter, just close your eyes and listen to the song, and let your mind wander to freer times ahead. And then you’ll probably want to play that song again right away, and keep playing it till summer arrives.