Melbourne Americana/folk duo Great Aunt release their debut EP 'A Mess That I Left'
“Sierra Hull meets Tom Waits in Louisiana you could say!” – Country Update
Spare and bold, simple and evocative, melancholic and hopeful – with the release of an ambitious debut EP, Great Aunt begin to define for themselves a unique path in folk and Americana.
‘A Mess That I Left’ combines elements of contemporary folk and Americana with the traditions of old time, bluegrass, and gospel music. The instrumentation and arrangements are bare and bold: various combinations of mandolin, guitar and upright bass explore well-worn themes of grief, love, acceptance, hope, resilience and faith. Striking too, are the evocative voices of Megan Bird and Chelsea Allen.
The duo engineered and produced their record alone, in their home studio in Melbourne’s inner north. Each song is realised with deliberate sparseness, and aims to capture and replicate their acoustic performance. Listen and you'll hear breaths, sighs, chirping birds, imperfections, moments of hope and joy, fear and happiness. ‘A Mess That I Left’ is a living, breathing thing: a palpable moment in musical time.
The message is clear: beginning and ending the 6-track EP is a hymn pleading for inclusivity and hope. The first iteration of ‘Oh, Cruel World’ is an introductory refrain of gospel-like harmonies; re-imagined in the last moments of the final song of the EP with a more sombre and intimate tone:
“Oh, cruel world
Oh, my girl
Treat her right
Oh, cruel world”
‘Oh, Cruel World’ tells the story of Bird’s family and others like them; her struggle coming out as a queer woman, and the lived experiences of her transgender brother. It talks too of their family’s struggles coming to terms with both, and of their concern for their children’s safety and place in the world. The song is sombre but hopeful: a celebration of the diversity in family and friends.
Some listeners may already be familiar with one of the tracks on the record: Great Aunt’s debut single ‘Tell Me When It’s Over’, is featured in the midst of their newer material. The duo released the song in late 2017, and a video clip was premiered on the Bluegrass Situation in November ‘17. The now award-winning video clip has since been added to multiple television and streaming services including CMC (Country Music Channel) Australia and DittyTV (USA), whilst the song has remained on high rotation on Australian community radio and included in numerous ‘Best of 2017’ lists.
In their words:
It was important we engineered and produced the songs ourselves, so that we could ensure we captured the right moment and vision we had for each song. We wanted to make a record that was honest, sincere, and intimate, not just from a songwriting and performance perspective, but also by translating that into the technical production of the EP. There’s a lot of deliberateness in small details.
Each song is about a chapter of significance in my life; largely about finding a positive path forward when past traumas still haunt you. I feel like I have left all that mess behind now - although it’s still close, and I can still see it. I wanted to share it in hope to normalise it for me, and for others.
Sat Aug 25 – Hardy’s Bay Club (Hardy’s Bay, NSW)
Sun Aug 26 - the Studio Folk Club (Armidale, NSW)
Tue Aug 28 - Bug Acoustic (Brisbane, QLD)
Fri Aug 31 - Brouhaha Brewery (Maleny, QLD)
Sun Sep 2 - Tumut Brewery (Tumut, NSW)
Mon Sep 3 - Hippo & Co (Canberra, ACT)
Thurs Sep 6 - Newport Bowls Club (Newport, VIC)
Fri Sep 14 - Nimbin Roots Festival (Nimbin, NSW)
Sat Sep 15 - 5 Church St, Bellingen (Bellingen, NSW)
Sun Sep 23 - the Union Hotel, Brunswick (Brunswick, VIC)
12-14 Oct - Foggy Mountain Bluegrass Festival (Kinglake, VIC)
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Discovered via Musosoup