There is a bit of a 70’s revival going on in the folk alternative world, with the likes of Weyes Blood and similar acts, and Grace Cummings from Melbourne, Australia proves that it’s an international movement. Her second album, Storm Queen, is one song after another that nods to the best of that era, and proves its staying power. What not all of the bands on this resurgence can boast, however, is such an earth shattering voice as Cummings: something like a cross between Janis Joplin and Grace Slick.
As a fan of Bob Dylan, his influence shines through in Storm Queen, especially in songs on this album like “Up In Flames,” with its poetry and gait. “It’s winter now and / I feel like Robert Frost / If only there was a birch tree to hang upon.” There are a few name drops on the album, including the riveting, “Storm Queen,” where she sings, “Townes Van Zandt / Took a hold of my hand / So I wouldn’t feel alone.” The song highlights Cummings’ deeply entrenched history with music, when she sings that life is feeling “like a country tune,” in a song that is decidedly NOT a country song.
As a singer/songwriter, Cummings would be thrilling to watch with just an acoustic guitar and her soaring voice. But the arrangements are filled out to great effect, sometimes with the most interesting of sounds. Like the saxophone on the title track, which recalls a Tom Waits’ accoutrement or perhaps off of David Bowie’s Black Star album. As well as what sounds like a spooky theremin in the closing song, “Fly A Kite.” Pianos and the like, add the alternative and modern feel of the album.
“Go fly a kite / Tie your troubles to the tail / There’s joy flying by,” she sings at the end of the record. She deals in the heaviness of life, in many of her tracks, trying at times to convince herself that she should be living and not dying. But the final track is fitting for a voice as triumphant as Cummings. She carries us with her stunning voice, and wonderful arrangements, up into the clouds, where at time it’s clear as day and other times as thick and emotional as a thunderstorm.
It is a good choice on Cummings part to title the album Storm Queen, because her arrangements and singing have much the same effect upon us as the weather does, shifting our mood considerably through her songs. There are songs about May, songs about rain, the wind blowing is a metaphor that she uses a number of times in the songs. There is the dark of “Storm Queen” and the light of “Two Little Birds.” It is quite a trip, through a quickly changing environment, and ever changing stratosphere, hearing this album in full. And while it is a longer offering, there’s never a moment that disappoints. It’s not just her voice that is stormy and satisfying, but the complete package.
order Storm Queen by Grace Cummings HERE