sun 21/07/2019

CD: Stella Donnelly - Beware of the Dogs | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Stella Donnelly - Beware of the Dogs

CD: Stella Donnelly - Beware of the Dogs

Quiet confidence and razor-sharp wit on Australian singer's excellent full-length debut

Powerful messages delivered with a butter-wouldn’t-melt vocal

Stella Donnelly does not suffer fools gladly. On her debut LP, she calls out all manner of bad behaviours, from crappy bosses to creepy guys, annoying family members to disappointing boyfriends. Donnelly’s very much a part of the new guard of songwriters who aren’t going to sit in silence, and aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves and others. 

And yet, angry music this is not. There are no pounding drums, no squealing riffs, no hateful growls. Rather, a quiet confidence and self-assuredness defines Beware of the Dogs.  Album opener and first single "Old Man" sets the tone with real purpose:  jangly guitars, sing-song melodies, and a vengeful message delivered with a butter-wouldn’t-melt vocal: “Your personality traits don't count if you put your dick / In someone's face”. This is smart music that’s beyond anger, and coolly, eloquently insisting on change.

Gigging relentlessly through 2017 and 2018, Donnelly has gained a formidable reputation as a solo performer. Live, audiences have been struck by her ability to control a room with just with her voice, her guitar and a string of playful but hard-hitting tunes. With a wide, bright smile, she croons witty yet sensitive lyrics and tackles difficult subjects with composure and warmth. For 2019, she’s assembled a four-piece band to embark on a world tour, and this transition to fuller textures has informed the album, elevating her songs to another level. Beware of the Dogs is a real rollercoaster, from the dreamy lilt of "Mosquito" to the razor-sharp "Tricks", to the life-affirming "Seasons Greetings" (which has one of the greatest repeat-to-fades of all time).

Happily there’s space on the album for Donnelly’s incomparable solo ability to shine through, notably the brilliant, bittersweet "Allergies", and signature anthem "Boys Will Be Boys"; her breakout single has been lifted from her 2017 Thrush Metal EP to find a welcome home as the centrepiece of the album. The song tackled victim-blaming in survivors of sexual assault, and it’s as devastating as ever. “Would you blame your little sister if she cried to you for help?” she demands, with a firm middle finger to a persistent rape culture that’s not fair on anyone of any gender. 

Beware of the Dogs is unequivocally powerful and dangerously listenable, helped by Donnelly’s one-of-a-kind flawless voice and her big, sensible brain. A bold work from a very exciting artist. 

@josoutherd

 

 

 

 

Smart music that’s beyond anger, and coolly, eloquently insisting on change

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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