9. Australia — ‘Back in Blak’ by Thelma Plum
Ok, I love that album cover by Emilie Pfitzner. Isn’t it just great.
So Australia is probably the first country from which I could name several artists. I’ve even listened to some of them quite a lot — Missy Higgins, Butterfly Boucher, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu and Cut Copy amongst others. And then, of course, there’s the very famous ones — Kylie, Nick Cave, Crowded House.
However, I decided to pick an artist I hadn’t heard of before. And whilst browsing, I stumbled upon this great photo of Thelma Plum and I picked this album, without knowing anything about this young singer.
It turns out she is Gamilaraay woman, and she’s already — with just this one album — one of the most popular Indigenous artists in Australia.
Having read that, I expected the album to sounds a bit different than what it is. I’m not sure if disappointed is the word. Don’t get me wrong, the album is ok, it’s easy to listen to, it’s fairly catchy, and the lyrics are nice (very personal, about life experiences, etc). Yet I don’t think it’s something that I will remember in a couple of years.
As a composer she’s fine, and it is great that she has written all the material in the album. The production, however, feels a bit bland. It turns something that could have sounded quite unique into something that could have been made by so many other singer-songwriters. It sounds a bit generic. Very polished. It’s a shame, considering that she even has Paul McCartney playing a subtle guitar part on one of the tracks. The only good aspect of that is that there’s not much to distract you from the lyrics, which as I’ve said, are good, but maybe not brilliant enough to turn this album into a repeated listen.
Having said that, I wonder what she’ll be doing next. I would love her to be a bit more… experimental. To play it less safe. But she’s young, and there’s plenty of time ahead. Let’s wait and see.