Canadian artist Danielle Todd has found success on Australian airwaves this year with her single ‘Crazy’ – and now with the new release ‘Back Burner’. Her style is eclectic while being identifiably country, and it’s all driven by her powerful voice. Todd is heading for the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January – but it won’t be her first visit to Australia.
‘I don’t remember the year,’ she says, ‘but it was a while ago. I really just wanted to travel so I travelled over there and then I really liked it. I ended up getting like a working visa that allowed me to play gigs. But I was just playing little pubs, little hotels, RSL clubs and stuff like that, mostly around the Sydney area. And then I did travel up to Queensland. I went up the coast. I also visited Hamilton Island and Adelaide – I have some family in Adelaide. So I did as much travelling as I was able to do and then performed whenever I could when I was there. I loved living over there and experiencing it. It was just a different lifestyle altogether than my Canadian life.’
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This month’s Spotify playlist is all new releases – see below for the full list.
Fanny Lumsden – ‘These Days’
Brad Cox – ‘Give Me Tonight’
Emma Dykes – ‘The Drovers’
Copperline – ‘Next Year’
Natalie Henry – ‘Water Over Wine’
Tom Curtain with Lee Kernaghan and Sara Storer – ‘She Gave Us The Song’
Aly Cook – ‘Southern Christmas Stars’
Andy Nelson – ‘Late Night Letter’
Kora Naughton – ‘Speechless’
Katie Bates – ‘Polka Dot Dress’
Leaving Lennox – ‘Weren’t Looking For’
Brittany Elise – ‘Pit Stop’
Aleyce Simmonds – ‘I Could Dance With You’
Renee Jonas – ‘Blame it on the Wine’
Tracy McNeil & The GoodLife – ‘Catch You’
Brook Chivell – ‘Fearless Rider’
Natalie Pearson – ‘Plan B’
Oh Harlow – ‘Give It A Miss’
There is a subgenre of Christmas carols that belongs to Australian creations, such as ‘Three Drovers’ and ‘Carol of the Birds’, to go along with Christmas-adjacent songs such as Tim Minchin’s ‘White Wine in the Sun’. What doesn’t come to mind is a joint Australian and New Zealand Christmas song – but now there is one, thanks to NZ artist Aly Cook and Kay and Buzz Bidstrup, who have created ‘Southern Christmas Stars’.
The song depicts the experience of Christmas in warm weather, as well as the joy of reuniting with loved ones. The lyrics were written by Kay Bidstrup to celebrate the Christmas homecoming of her son after a year living abroad, and Buzz Bidstrup and Cook put the music together while Cook was in Australia promoting her latest album, Caught in the Middle.
While December isn’t yet upon us, this song is a lovely way to ease into the festive spirit – and, perhaps, it will become your new Southern Hemisphere Christmas anthem.
Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify
Andy Nelson is a singer-songwriter from Bathurst, in the central west of New South Wales. Earlier this year he released his debut album, Man on the Mountain, which followed his debut, self-titled EP and appearances at festivals such as the National Folk Festival, The End Festival, Inland Sea of Sounds, Festival of Small Halls, Gympie Music Muster and Majors Creek Music Festival.
‘Late Night Letter’ is the second single from the album and it takes about three bars to establish that it’s likely to be devastating and unforgettable, and so it proves. The song tells the story of an adolescent boy growing up in small regional community where there was once a thriving industry that provided work and security. But – as happens all over the world – the work ends, or the industry moves elsewhere, and the people who relied on it are left behind because they can’t or are unwilling to move with the industry. (If you’re interested in an Australian perspective on this, I recommend The Death of Holden by Royce Kurmelovs.)
This is sparse instrumentation on this track, as befits the subject matter, and it’s incredibly effective, while Nelson honours the story and his lyrics with his delivery. For those who haven’t yet listened to Man on the Mountain, ‘Late Night Letter’ will provide the persuasive reason to do so immediately.
Apple Music | Artist’s website | iTunes | Spotify
When I covered ‘The Drovers’ by Emma Dykes earlier this week, I had no idea that I’d be offered the chance to premiere the video – but it’s such a great track, how could I refuse?
This special song was inspired by a special service: the Westpac Rescue Helicopter. The helicopter team worked with Sam Davison at Two Digital Media to put the video together.
‘I’m very grateful.’ says Dykes, ‘because I wanted the clip to show a day in the life of the rescue staff. To show the important tasks they complete and just how emotionally invested they are, in a broader sense, both the song and the video are about the emergency services in general. They’re from all walks of life and do an incredible job. I also noticed they included a quick shot of me!’
Watch the video below.
Listen to ‘The Drovers’:
Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify
Rory Ellis is a singer-songwriter from Newcastle, New South Wales, who has been performing for thirty years. His outlaw Americana style has won fans all over the world, with Ellis touring in Europe as well as Australia. His new album, Inner Outlaw, is his ninth. It showcases his impressive voice and masterful storytelling. And, as it turns out, the twelve songs on the album are just a sample of what Ellis has stashed away. He writes songs constantly, saying, ‘There’s always something that happens every day, really. Since that album I’ve sat out at my little table there and probably written another twenty-four [songs].
‘Little ideas pop to mind or thoughts or things you see or hear,’ Ellis goes on. ‘You can always write a song about something. It doesn’t need to be the biggest thing in the world. It can be the smallest thought in the world. In fact, the song “The Letter”, off the Inner Outlaw album, I was sitting here thinking about my grandfather sitting around his table out in the backyard in Porter Street, Prahran. There’s a little chess table made out of marble and concrete by my uncle Jimmy, who was my godfather. I just started to write about the backyard. It was incredible little place in Porter Street and had a loft, a horse stable, the cobblestones and the big gates out the back. Of course it’s not there now. My dad used to say, you know, there’s people there like Bob Hawke and Arthur Calwell sitting around Uncle Jimmy’s table. So I wrote a song called “Uncle Jimmy’s Table”.’
It is obviously wonderful for an artist to be open to those ideas coming, but there’s a great deal of skill involved in taking that inspiration, that fleeting thought, and turning it into a song. Ellis explains the craft of this by saying, ‘I think the thing is to take a small idea and paint a really big picture in not a lot of words. At the end of the day being a storyteller more so than a pop stylist, you tend not to do the total repetition on everything. So you’re actually telling a story, you’re painting a picture for people so that they can put themselves in the situation, you know, or relate to it somehow. And that’s the skill to it, in my opinion.’
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Fanny Lumsden – an unstoppable, inspirational singer-songwriter who is in the middle of her latest Country Halls Tour – has released a new song, the bittersweet ‘These Days’, and announced that her third album, Fallow, will be released in March 2020.
‘These Days’ is about the stretch of time between Christmas and New Year, when not much happens but so much matters. The song is bittersweet because, as the song says, she waits all year for these days but, as she said on stage the other night, these days can contain sadness even while you’re experiencing them, because you know they’re about to be over. Given that many Australians spend that stretch of the year in the same state – going to the beach, hanging out, taking the opportunity to do not much of all but knowing it’s all so fleeting – there is much to relate to. And, as is so often the case with Lumsden’s songs, it’s also musically memorable.
Fallow is available to preorder on CD and vinyl as well as digital, and if you order from Lumsden she’ll send you an email to access lots of behind-the-scenes content, which will be added to as time goes on.
‘These Days’ is out through Red Dirt Records and Cooking Vinyl Records.
Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify