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Stella Donnelly

posted by tommy

I haven’t been as taken with a local EP this year as I have been with this Stella Donnelly EP (amazingly titled Thrush Metal). She’s fresh outta Perth, or more accurately fresh in Perth as she’s still there. She’s released Thrush Metal via one of my two favourite local record labels, the wonderful Healthy Tapes (the other is Spirit Level, FYI). Healthy Tapes is, true to its name, largely focused around cassette releases and Stella has bumped out no less than five pressings now as the damn things keep selling, a testament to the magic on those tape spools. Truly she channels the holy trinity of lyrics, voice and performance and I just don’t even know what to do anymore because I like it so much and maybe there’s a Stella Donnelly AA-like meeting where we can all talk about how we ended up here and make amends for the things we did to other people and look this is a tangent we don’t need to follow any further so come on let’s just have another listen just one more listen please I need this you don’t understand. There’s no production tropes tweaking your ears but rather very earnestly delivered ideas, sung wonderfully with just the slightest hint of vibrato and thoughtfully positioned acoustic guitar.

As the best artists always do, SD makes it tough to pick a favourite song from the record. ‘Grey’ has my favourite vocal melody that hugs the acoustic guitar line like a pair of teens cuddling their way down a grassy slope. Then there’s ‘Mean To Me’ which is sad and sweet in equal measure, playful but hurting all the while. And then dammmmmn, this has gotta be the one that drives you gut first into the zone of no return but ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is utterly ruinous. It’s a song about sexual assault and it’s societal perceptions (our collective penchant for victim blaming) and Stella’s voice will completely tear you apart. Somehow she manages to talk directly to survivor, perpetrator and perpetrators father while changing person occasionally to callous bystander. I can’t quite say how she coherently navigates these different voices but Donnelly, you’re a special sort of artist and we need you right now.

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