JAYNE Denham had a clear vision for her album Wanted. It had to be an "all-tough, gun-blazing, bad-arse record."
Basically Denham wanted to combine the Bundy rum-soaked, dust-covered ute-driving sound of modern country rock, combined with the gun smoke and horse-riding nostalgia of spaghetti westerns.
It was an ambitious mission, but one Denham was inspired to achieve for her fifth record.
"We wanted to create a musical experience," Denham says from lockdown in the Blue Mountains. "Back in the day you had Michael Jackson with Thriller and there was a song, but then there was this extended version of it. I thought wouldn't it be fun to do a whole album that's like a wild west movie with sounds effects and you take the listener on a journey."
The idea was sparked by the title track, which Denham co-wrote with former Novocastrians Troy Kemp and Matt Scullion.
"Matt Scullion is a real riff master and he came up with one with a real western country-rock sound," she says. "I said 'gosh, can you imagine if I did a whole album under that umbrella'?"
With a clear aesthetic in mind, more songs were sought from professional songwriters in Nashville. The finished product was Wanted, the most epic album of Denham's career.
"I said, 'let's just forget all the rules and the trends and let's just make music we like and make it for the sake of making music and making art'," she says.
Since releasing her debut album Sudden Change In Weather (2007) the three-time Golden Guitar nominee's career has grown steadily. Denham has become the Australian queen of trucking songs since the release of her 2013 single Addicted To The Diesel and she's an ambassador for women in trucking.
In 2019 she was also invited to shoot a video for her song Black Coffee & White Lines in Alaska with the cast TV show Ice Road Truckers.
Denham's 2018 album Calamity opened doors in the lucrative US market and a week before COVID-19 hit she was due to fly out to perform her largest ever gig at the Mid-American Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky.
"I just landed my work visa and it's crazy because it meant thousands of dollars down the drain," she says. "Hopefully they'll still have me back."
In the meantime, Denham is getting dressed up to hit the road in Australia, COVID-19 permitting, to showcase songs from Wanted.
Denham is promising it'll be the most theatrical performances of her career, complete with her custom-made western costume, hat, holster and fake gun.
"That's the saddest thing because I've spent six months working on the show, we had all this footage to match the epic music of the record, all the sound effects in between the songs," she says. "It is gonna happen one day and it's gonna be a great show."
Jayne Denham's Wanted is out on Friday.
Denham is scheduled to play the Muswellbrook RSL (September 10), Wallsend Diggers (September 17), Springwood Country Club (September 18), Country by The River Festival - Murray Bridge (October 16), Groundwater Country Music Festival - Broadbeach (November 12-14), Hallam Hotel (November 18), Gateway Hotel - Geelong (November 19), Tumbarumba Hotel (November 20) and Moonshiners - Tamworth (January 15).