Who's saying what
When I first heard this album, I didn't understand why it had been such a long recording process. Recorded and fiddled with for over a year, these 10 songs are skeletal; pregnant with melancholy and emotion but unfettered by much else beyond the kernel of a demo. The listener can perhaps pick up - or project, more likely - the moments that are a reference to Dean Turner, a figure who played a huge role in Adalita Srsen's life, be it once partner, Magic Dirt band mate, co-conspirator or sounding board, and whom passed away during the making of this record. But such moments aren't explicit. And Adalita's words, always cloaked in shadows but forever fearless and active, don't reveal everything at once. Nor puncture your consciousness. Not in one listen anyway.
I'm wary of this, but: I kept driving around. I kept listening to this album. I kept not wanting to not listen to this album, despite a black cloud descending. The cloud brought with it memories of Magic Dirt going ballistic in the most backwater of backwater taverns somewhere dark down the Victorian coast. Of jumping the fence at a stinking Big Day Out, seeing the band beyond a sea of heads and thinking they were more important than anyone else there. Of recording demos and feeling they're good enough and not having the conviction to agree with yourself. Of mystifiyingly ferocious 10"'s. Of Adalita being a frontwoman that seemed tougher than all the frontguys; her subtle handle on that compelling mix of suburban romance, malaise and volume forever sparking confidence and heartstrings. This doesn't have a whole lot to do with what's tangible - it's also the impact of her voice: some people can sell those things from their throat while singing the phone book, others nail the words to cover up knowing they can't. Adalita does both, for me. I can only suspect for some others. Hope so for newcomers.
Because her debut solo album has revealed itself to be a powerfully evocative experience. Dryly, it's vocals and bare but propulsive guitar, with a smattering of percussion and drones. There's a brute sadness but not wallowing. There's brave, personal scouring, ("I've always found with the process of making a record, it is this vehicle for exploring yourself. And life. And how you live it through others and through events" - Adalita interview) but there's hope and maybe a bit of fun somewhere on the edges too. With repeated listening it strengthens; every song and every sound performs a function. Whether it's the endless, rippling blanket of clear guitar under the dirty notes of 'Hot Air'; the unpacking of emotions wrought mechanical on 'The Repairer'; the despairing, wordless drone of 'Lassa Hanta'; or the heart-in-mouth tone shift on 'Invite Me', which switches from realist, Paul Kelly-like spoken word flippancy over ugly guitar, to the dreaming, descending... "You stood behind me and / Placed your hands upon my head and / Smoothed down my hair and / Lovingly cradled my neck / And I could be there by now / If you'd invite me darling" - you see where Adalita and her friends' time went. Both in the function gone into the creation of this record, as well as the journey and upheaval that brought these songs to bear. And I don't know if you can say anything better than that about a collection of songs.
Sometimes music resonates personally, affects us deeply, and there's not anything a press release, a clip, a 30 second teaser, or a review can do about it.
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