Songs For Australia
Australian musician Julia Stone had the idea – create a tribute album with all proceeds going to the bushfire appeal; she called on international acts as well as plenty of her countrymen and women – the songs were all originally by Australian artists, and it will be released soon on vinyl and CD but is available to stream now – it’s called Songs For Australia.
I don’t often review charity tribute albums – but this one is worth mentioning. Not just for the good cause but on balance there are some great renditions here. I mean, it wouldn’t matter in a way – if it was all garbage that wouldn’t stop it being a good cause still and a Herculean effort to organise and collate – but the fact that there are some great new versions of some fantastic old songs; well that’s icing for music fans right. That the cake was made is enough.
I haven’t cared about The National for a lot longer than I ever cared about The National but hearing this album open with their version of Never Tear Us Apart…well, I was all in. Conceptually it’s the right note to strike and it’s just a great new rendition of a towering triumph of a song.
The same is true of Laura Mvula tackling Reckless and DOPE LEMON tracing around Streets of Your Town. So three from three to start the album.
Damien Rice took on Sia’s Chandelier and totally remade/recast it. His was one of the promotional singles to circulate news of the album. I feel I could say the same about Rice as I did about The National. And it’s the same feeling hearing this – I dig it big time, even if I was never much invested in the original song.
Joan As Police Woman covers Gotye’s Hearts A Mess. Joan’s a covers-artist wizard – with her own second album of cover versions due soon. So of course she nails this.
But if we’re going to look at one of the absolute highlights – it’s Kurt Vile doing Nick Cave’s Stranger Than Kindness. Perfect reinvention. Of course Vile is also a great covers artist with a long list of back-pocket, back-catalogue cover classics and Cave gives over great songs for reinterpretation. So we have Martha Wainwright doing his Ship Song here also – and it’s another of the truly shining gems. And Dan Sultan takes on Into My Arms. Maybe that’s less successful as a cover – it’s more a case of the baking paper and crayons being used after all – but it’s still a great choice of a song.
The woman that came up with this idea, Julia Stone, offers a stirring re-imagining of Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning. She recites the words in field recording settings. It’s a wonderful encapsulation of the title of the album and the aims of this project.
The closing track is a cover of Men At Work’s Down Under by Partyface. It’s somber and transmogrifies the song; again in keeping with the aims and intentions of this awareness-raiser.