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Talented Melbourne-based singer songwriter Joshua Batten releases Heavy Road, his first single in two years today, Monday July 11. The song is the first release from his adventurous forthcoming album Learn To Live Again, which will be released October 3.

With Learn To Live Again, Joshua Batten has made the album he’s always wanted to make – and an important one. The sprawling 14-track album is an eclectic mix of songs that tell a cohesive story about the challenges and acceptance of mental health and neurodiversity, set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The story chronicles Joshua’s experience as a working musician on the Autism Spectrum, and how the pandemic forced him to revaluate his priorities and ambitions, to a point where he could be more independent and forgiving of himself. It’s Joshua’s journey, but one which resonates far and wide beyond the personal.

Heavy Road takes a snapshot of the early days of the pandemic in the form of a break-up song. “I have always strived to take personal experiences and make them universally relatable through my songs,” explains Joshua. “With Heavy Road, and the Learn To Live Again album as a whole, I’m doing the opposite – taking a universal experience and giving an account of my own response.”

“Because of my condition, I get anxiety a lot quicker and a lot more often than most people. For the entire week before restrictions began, I was in a state of panic and stress. Usually, I can sense when a bout of anxiety and post-traumatic stress is coming on, and every time I think I’ve matured and recovered, those same feelings inevitably return. This is the ‘Old Heavy Road’, dragging me down, forcing me to feel the same despair and anguish I’ve felt before.”

“In the last week before COVID-19 restrictions were enforced, I continued my work as normal, but there was a heightened sense of trepidation, that everything could come crashing down at any moment. I likened the start of the pandemic to a break-up with a long-term partner after ignoring the red flags. I was desperately trying to hold on to some sense of normality and positivity before everything fell apart.”

In the final bridge of the song Joshua channels all his frustration into a stream-of-conscious rant, building up to a crescendo as he begs and pleads for answers to all the questions that have built up, finally asking “Where do we go from here?”.

Heavy Road is a song for and about these times. It’s Joshua Batten’s journey – and it may well be part of your journey too. Musically it’s for everyone.

Heavy Road will be available to purchase and stream on Monday July 11. Pre-orders for Learn To Live Again will also be available from July 11 on Bandcamp.

Learn To Live Again is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

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