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