Fanny Lumsden “Hey Dawn”

Cooking Vinyl Australia, 2023

Award-winning Australian artist comes up trumps again.

Artwork for Fanny Lumsden Album 'Hey Dawn'‘Hey Dawn’ is Award-winning Australian artist Fanny Lumsden’s fourth album, the follow-up to 2020’s ‘Fallow’ which was named best country album at the 2020 ARIA Awards, and swept the field taking home five Golden Guitar Awards including alt-country album of the year. With such domestic praise and kudos for her previous record, this release was very much anticipated and happily, any doubts anyone may have had will be dispelled.

The album kicks off with the piano-led gospely-tinged song ‘Hey Dawn’, a welcoming track to introduce the start of a day, the music building up with some very warm backing vocals representing the rising of the sun. ‘The Great Divide’ (possibly the best track on the album) has glorious harmonies and deft uplifting chord changes. Some lovely counter vocals on the later chorus make it a real ear worm and the solos are exquisite. Mandolins and banjos are mixed superbly popping in occasionally from left and right speakers at the right level to keep the listener interested throughout the song.

Not every track maintains the same standard though. ‘You’ll be Fine’ may be a bit too retro and poppy for americana fans, sounding a little like a Taylor Swift pastiche mixed with that 80’s band The Knack. In fact Swift may spring to mind a few times in Lumsden’s vocal delivery, which is meant as a compliment. ‘Ugly Flowers’ is a quite beautiful ballad and another highlight; with striking lyrics, it’s memorable as hell with its reflections on family life:

“There were seven different cakes on the table that day
for everyone’s birthday in the month of May
Wal turned three and Grandpa, eighty-eight
and it’s not quite the same now grandma is gone
she was the life of the party and it just feels wrong
but Dot’s out of town so Mum stepped up to the plate
and we all sing along
and life goes on and on
life goes on and on and on and on and on…”

‘When I Die’ despite the morbid title plays against expectations as it’s another upbeat number, with a a superlative stax beat ending as Lumsden tells everyone that when she dies, not to cry as she’s lived a good life.  ‘Lucky’ with its Celtic feel has some lovely instrumentation going on behind her singing, the backing vocals being as pleasurable as the instrumentation. From the ‘jangly guitar opening on ‘Soar’ to the beautiful minor chord change on ‘Enjoy the Ride’  there’s something in every song on this album that gives pleasure. It certainly will wow those Australian music critics. Recommended.

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