MELODY Moko's debut album The Wreckage in 2017 at the age of 29 was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
Despite performing since she was a child, the recording studio was a foreign place for the Americana singer-songwriter. In her own words, she was "green".
Naturally Moko was brimming with big ambitions and ideas as she worked alongside co-producers Michael Muchow and Newcastle country star Catherine Britt, who also happen to be her husband and best friend.
"I was like, 'Let's put this on and let's do that and make it sound a bit like this record, because I love that person, so I wanna sound like that person'," Moko reflects.
"I don't think it was detrimental to the album, but sometimes I think there's more beauty in letting the songs be what they are, instead of making them fancy or something that they're not."
The Wreckage was a well-received debut and presented an upbeat take on folk-tinged Americana.
But three years on Moko has delivered an album in Two Kids & A Radio that resonates on a deeper level. And most importantly, it's completely Moko.
"I think the main thing I did with this record was find my own creativity, my own style and my own voice and not really rely on using other people's tricks that I wanted to emulate," she says.
"I think on The Wreckage there was a lot of that. A lot of emulating different people and wanting my songs to sound like their songs, because I thought that's what I have to do to make a good record."
Two Kids & A Radio has proven being herself was the key to making a good record.
Two weeks ago it debuted at No.3 on the ARIA Country chart and No.9 on the all-Australian chart. It also gave Moko her first inclusion on the all-genre ARIA chart when the album cracked the top 40.
Plenty has happened in Moko's life since the release of The Wreckage. She's welcomed the birth of her daughter Magnolia, 2, joining son Miller, 7, and she and Muchow sold their Mayfield business The Peppertown Coffee Bar (now Equium Social).
Then a year ago the family left Newcastle and settled in Brisbane to be closer to family. It's a decision which left Moko torn because "Newcastle will always be the home of my heart."
Two Kids & A Radio was only made possible through a successful $17,000 crowd-funding campaign last year.
That allowed Moko and Muchow to travel to Nashville and record the album with producer Neilson Hubbard (Mary Gauthier, Sam Baker) and use well-known sessions players Juan Solorzano (drums) and Fats Kaplin (fiddle and steel guitar).
Moko believes the crowd-funding campaign also had the effect of giving her audience a sense of ownership of the album and its creative process.
"There's no way I would have been able to make this record to the standard it was made, where it was made, with the musicians it was made without those people who contributed to my crowd-funding," she says. "So it really happens because of them.
"In today's day and age people want to be part of the artist's life and that's the best way they can do it through the crowd-funding process."
A large portion of Moko's fan base would also relate to the overriding theme of the album - that of being a working mother in our increasingly demanding society.
Songs like Better Than This deal directly with the mundane aspects of parenthood, while Mama is an ode to the nomadic lifestyle of the touring musician.
Elsewhere, Moko sings a fragile ballad about a former lover (Benjamin), the bluesy Never Get High compares the appeal of drugs to sexual desire and Last Cigarette, co-written with Catherine Britt, draws parallels between nicotine addiction and a destructive relationship.
"It's about me trying to do all the things that parents and women do at once, be mums, work, and take on everything we take on," Moko says.
"Two Kids & A Radio really encapsulated the whole theme of the record."
Moko says the music industry has become more accepting of working mothers, particularly in the alt-country scene which includes close friends and fellow parents Britt, Fanny Lumsden and Natalie Henry.
"Although I feel to the fans and the listeners it's becoming a more accepted thing, there's definitely still questions and assumptions that get thrown at mothers in the music industry, more than it should," she says.
One of the biggest changes she'd love to see would be the extension of childcare services beyond regular business hours.
"I just think the childcare system is geared that way and it supports the nine to five career," she says. "That would be an easy one that could be implemented. Us mums who are on the road and doing this, we're just working together to make it easier for each other. I get invited to go on Catherine's [Britt] tour or Fanny Lumsden's tour, because those women know I'm a mum too and I can help them with their kids and we all band together and work together.
"It's just about supporting each other."
Melody Moko's album Two Kids & A Radio is available now.