Australian singer/songwriter Stella Donnelly is back with word of her sophomore album, Flood, coming Aug. 26 on Secretly Canadian, and a world tour slated for this fall. Lead single “Lungs” is out now, complete with a music video.
The follow-up to 2019’s acclaimed Beware of the Dogs, Flood is described in a press release as “Donnelly’s record of rediscovery: the product of months of risky experimentation, hard moments of introspection, and a lot of transition. Like the many Banded Stilts that spread across the cover, Donnelly is wading into uncharted territory, learning who she is as an artist, and how abundant one individual can be.”
Donnelly wrote the 43 tracks that would become the foundation of her new record while moving through numerous Australian cities, from the small rainforest settlement of Bellingen—where she took up birdwatching, losing herself in nature so as “to lose that feeling of anyone’s reaction to me. I forgot who I was as a musician, which was a humbling experience of just being; being my small self”—to Fremantle, Williams, Guilderton, Margaret River and Melbourne. “I had so many opportunities to write things in strange places,” Donnelly recalls. “I often had no choice about where I was. There’s no denying that not being able to access your family with border closures, it zooms in on those parts of your life you care about.”
Donnelly wrote her new songs on piano, rather than her usual electric guitar, working alongside her band members, including Jennifer Aslett, George Foster, Jack Gaby and Marcel Tussie, and co-producing Flood with Anna Laverty and Jake Webb (Methyl Ethyl). The album finds Donnelly both looking back at her past—appropriate, given that she hadn’t played much piano since her early childhood—and imagining her future, often by peering through the lenses of various fictional characters.
On “Lungs,” Flood’s opener, Donnelly writes from the perspective of a child whose family is being evicted, vocalizing acrobatically as she insists in its choruses, “Don’t watch us when we leave / Won’t let you see us.” Uptempo percussion and a roomy arrangement of bass, distant guitar distortion and organ lend the song some lightness, but Donnelly’s lyrics, masked by the sing-song delivery she assumes so as to better inhabit her character, are quietly harrowing: “Stretching out the leather on your wallet / That my lungs are filling up / Long live the asbestos on the rental / Yeah it looks alright to me,” she sings, alluding to the ultimate cost of poverty. “I’ll be a child, rest of my life,” she swears as the song winds down, imploring, “History again, teach me like a friend, what you know and why.”
Donnelly says of the “Lungs” video, which she co-directed with Duncan Wright:
Very loosely based on the Banded Stilts of my album cover, the character I play in red is a wobbly adult, doing their best with their new set of legs and responsibilities, trying to make it look easy but very much on unsteady ground. I wanted this video to celebrate the child, firm in their footholds, intimidatingly honest, not to be messed with, they are the strength and power of this video no matter how much I try to assert myself as the boss.
Donnelly adds of her childhood friends, sisters Billie, Nikki and Stevie Tanner, who run the Tanner Dance Academy and choreographed the video:
They weaved so much beauty in their choreography and also let the dancers apply their own take to the movements which really shines through in the static shots. Grace Goodwin who produced, set-designed and costumed the clip was integral in creating my stilted character and creating a point of difference between that and my child self.
Donnelly’s tour kicks off in San Diego, California, on Sept. 11, with its North American leg running through an Oct. 1 show in Washington, D.C. She’ll then spend November in the U.K. and E.U. Tickets go on sale this Friday, May 13.
Watch the “Lungs” video below, and see the details of Flood and Donnelly’s tour dates further down.
02. How Was Your Day?
03. Restricted Account
06. Move Me
08. This Week
09. Oh My My My
10. Morning Silence
Stella Donnelly Tour Dates:
11 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
12 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda
13 – San Francisco, CA @ Independent
15 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
16 – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
17 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
21 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Cafe
22 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
23 – Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary
24 – Toronto, ON @ Longboat Hall
26 – Boston, MA @ Crystal Ballroom
28 – Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
30 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live
01 – Washington, DC @ Songbyrd
01 – Leeds, UK @ Wardrobe
02 – Glasgow @ Mono
03 – Manchester @ Band On The Wall
04 – Dublin, IE @ Whelan’s
06 – Liverpool, UK @ Zanzibar
08 Nottingham, UK @ Metronome
09 – Bristol, UK @ Thekla
10 – London, UK @ Electric Brixton
12 – Cardiff, UK @ The Gate
13 – Birmingham, UK @ Hare and Hounds
14 – Brighton, UK @ Komedia
16 – Paris, FR @ FMR
17 – Cologne, DE @ Artheatre
18 – Brussels, BE @ Rotonde – Botanique
19 – Amsterdam, NL @ Bitterzoet
21 – Hamburg, DE @ Molotow Skybar
22 – Copenhagen, DK @ Hotel Cecil
24 – Berlin, DE @ Badehaus
25 – Munich, DE @ Strom w/ Julia Jacklin