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Review: Desert Divas Volume II

A new compilation from MusicNT is putting Aboriginal women's voices front and centre.

By Chelsea Heaney.

Desert Divas is the result of a program that supports Aboriginal women’s song writing skills and helps to support them in learning about the music industry. Eight women were partnered with eight successful female musicians, who mentored them throughout the recording process at CAAMA studios in Alice Springs.

The result is a record with real soul and musical mettle that also unveils some serious talent coming out of remote communities. As well as being musically on point, the tracks also tell the unique stories and experiences of these women. Opening with the stripped back track ‘How Can I Live’, featuring the isolated and powerful vocals of Casii Williams, Desert Divas II features some seriously impressive female voices. Eleanor Dixon’s ‘My Spirit Is Free’ follows the first track, blending Indigenous and English languages in a downbeat and reflective song.

‘Me & My Guitar’ brings in the acoustic singer-songwriter style of Bronwyn Stuart, followed by Jillian Moody’s ‘My Brothers Arms’, which relays a heartfelt family-based narrative. ‘Flowers Will Bloom’ by Shana Ray takes on a more low-key electronic vibe, with keys playing the main melodies.

The tempo picks up at ‘Song For The Mad Women’ from Kiriz Oliver, introducing a rock aesthetic that showcases the diversity of these musicians. ‘A Part Of Me’ is different again, with Rita Tomlins bringing back the acoustic vibe but utilising woodwind instrumentals. Capping it off is 'Falling For You’ from Miranda Garling, a catchy folky pop track. 

This compilation is the second instalment of the program, with this year’s mentors including Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote fame, Leah Flanagan, Dallas Frasca and Helpmann Award winner Ursula Yovich.

The women were in good company, with producer Anna Laverty (Florence and the Machine, Courtney Barnett, Cut Copy, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds) recording and Steph Harrison (Bat Hazzard) as Musical Director.

This mentoring program has produced an album that easily rivals releases from seasoned musicians. It is definitely something worth checking out and an accomplishment that all involved should be very proud of.


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