Roots

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Steve Creedy

It’s tempt­ing to say Colleen Hewett has fol­lowed a path beaten by her good mate Rus­sell Mor­ris with his crit­i­cally ac­claimed al­bum Shark­mouth. How­ever, that would not quite be cor­rect.

Cer­tainly, there are sim­i­lar­i­ties: both al­bums fea­ture ex­cel­lent, well-pro­duced, blues-ori­ented mu­sic pow­er­fully sung by tal­ented vet­eran per­form­ers. Hewett’s adap­ta­tion of her po­tent voice to the genre is per­haps less sur­pris­ing than the switch by Mor­ris, but no less grat­i­fy­ing.

The for­mer queen of pop has charted a more per­son­alised course, sung with pas­sion and sin­cer­ity, that re­flects a some­times trou­bled per­sonal life. The sin­gle Shut Up and Let Me Breathe has be­come a mov­ing an­them for the push against do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, poignant be­cause of Hewett’s ex­pe­ri­ence. It has no doubt at­tracted many to the al­bum, but it would be a big mis­take to as­sume Hewett’s first record in 14 years is a one-track won­der. This is a tremen­dous mix­ture of orig­i­nals and cov­ers backed by top-flight mu­si­cians and fea­tur­ing a great singer. It kicks off with a pow­er­ful ver­sion of the Etta James clas­sic Blues is My Busi­ness, mov­ing into a strik­ing Tony Nay­lor orig­i­nal about Hewett’s grand­mother, Rockin’ Chair.

Hewett’s fam­ily history is wo­ven through­out the al­bum, the lively Daddy Said penned by her son, Wil­liam, who also col­lab­o­rates with his mother on Shut Your Mouth. Starlight cel­e­brates one of Hewett’s African-Amer­i­can an­ces­tors, a mid­dleweight cham­pion boxer who mi­grated to Aus­tralia from the US. Whether per­form­ing cov­ers such as I Sing the Blues or de­liv­er­ing the orig­i­nals, Hewett puts her heart and soul into this al­bum. As her long-time friend and men­tor Molly Mel­drum would say: Do you your­self a favour.

Black & White Colleen Hewett Bi­larm Mu­sic

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