wed 19/06/2024

Album: Grace Cummings - Storm Queen | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Grace Cummings - Storm Queen

Album: Grace Cummings - Storm Queen

A wild ride with the Melbourne singer-songwriter and her memorable voice

Grace Cummings's 'Storm Queen': uncategorisable

Although Storm Queen begins forcefully with the suitably tempestuous “Heaven,” the most affecting track on the second album from Melbourne’s Grace Cummings is the sparse, reflective “Two Little Birds.” The two performances capture the opposing poles defining Cummings: whether to go full-bore with her malleable voice, or whether to keep it direct within a delicate instrumental framing.

“This Day in May,” the ninth track, takes both approaches with highs and lows comparable to Leonard Cohen’s now played-out “Hallelujah.” It’s followed by the title track, which has the stately, windswept majesty of Mark Lanegan at his most desert-scorched. Yet Grace Cummings – who also works in theatre as an actor – does not sound like either of these. It’s more that this is the world she has chosen to occupy, one where these are her kin folk. Then, there’s that voice, one as gripping as that of Judy Henske; growl, swoops, whispered asides and all.

There are further hints of where Cummings may have been looking. She’s said she’s listened to The Allman Brothers and read Rilke. On Storm Queen’s “Up in Flames”, her voice has a slight Irish or Scottish lilt and its lyrics mention Robert Frost (“if only I was a poem,” she declares). “Always New Days Always” again suggests a fondness for Leonard Cohen while the Appalachian-edged “Here is the Rose” has a slight “Cry me a River” feel, taking it close to gospel. “Raglan’s” drama evokes Neil Young’s epic contributions to the two early CSNY albums, despite featuring a banjo, fiddle and slide guitar – all of which might point in the direction of The Band. David Ackles also comes to mind as perhaps having wandered through Cummings’s world.

Cummings’s music will probably be categorised as folk, but this singer-songwriter’s intense form of art music is uncategorisable. Storm Queen is a wild ride, but it’s one worth taking.


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