Brisbane singer songwriter Sean Sennett has created an album to fall in love to as he guides listeners on a nostalgic journey in I Left My Heart in Highgate Hill.

Set against the familiar scene of Highgate Hill and West End, 10 tracks explore what it is to experience unrequited love in a city and suburb that so many cannot help but fall for. “I’m just a big admirer of the precinct. It [seems] kind of romantic and exotic and a bit bohemian,” said Sennett.

Wanting to capture the area’s atmosphere through music, Sennett began working on the album, although it was a chance recording session with local Shelley Evans that the album’s final form began to take shape. Evans was originally singing back up, but Sennett was so struck by her vocals that he asked her to sing a track solo. Not only did that restructure the track Valentine’s Day, it decided a new direction for the album: it would feature only female voices.

Working with a range of local talent, Sennett acquired the help of nine female singers, one actress and one female artist to help him bring his songs from paper to listeners. “I sort of had this idea of how the songs could have new life or a different kind of life with female singers,” he said. “I wanted it to be local women or women that were from Queensland and it kind of grew from that.”

Pairing artists to the songs he wrote was a process Sennett compared to a film director’s in choosing actors for characters. “It was really good because that’s when I’d start to research the individual’s work and try to apply it to how it might sound on the song we were doing,” he said. We’ve Come a Long Way is one of the two most upbeat songs on the record. For it, Sennett says a clear choice was Sahara Beck who “has such a great pop voice so she was kind of perfect for that”.

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Van Morrison and Paul Kelly, one of the record’s surprising yet touching features is the spoken word piece performed by acclaimed Australian actor Libby Munro in the title song. “I’ve always loved spoken word pieces and I wanted to try that and having a female do it, I thought, was quite effective,” he said.

Sennett also collaborated with Brisbane artist Anne Wallace, who painted the record’s cover art. Discovering it by rifling through decades of the artist’s works, Sennett was drawn to one piece in particular. “There was something about that girl, the tree and the house that just really did it for me so it was a bit of a no brainer when I saw it,” he said.

Sennett hopes that his own personal connection to the area helps conjure a bit of yearning for the times when love was the air that filled your lungs on the streets of Highgate Hill.

The record is available for purchase online at Bandcamp or for streaming on Spotify.