Desert Divas Volume 2 Various artists Music NT Music NT’s Desert Divas and Sista Sound program has revealed through several years an extraordinary depth of female indigenous musical talent in much of northern Australia, with the latest recorded output showing off the skills of another eight outstanding young women. Not all are unknown — Eleanor Dixon’s family band, Rayella, has kicked serious goals, but she wanted to be involved to explore her individual songwriting talents. Each of the eight — Dixon and Jillian Moody from Barkly, Mandy Garling, Kiriz Oliver and Shana Ray from Darwin, and Bronwyn Stuart, Cassandra Williams and Rita Tomlins from Alice Springs — was paired with a female mentor whose job was not to lay down rules but to help craft and polish her original song. These guides included Nai Palm, Leah Flanagan, Dallas Frasca and Ursula Yovich. Recording sessions were all-women affairs at the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association studio in Alice Springs, with producer Anna Laverty (Courtney Barnett, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Florence and the Machine and much more) and musical director Steph Harrison, an Alice local, in charge. Styles vary across the album, from brooding (Dixon’s My Spirit is Free is a standout) to country rock (Stuart’s Me and My Guitar can only make you smile) and pop; but, despite that, there’s a sonic coherence. Or perhaps it’s just that outstanding songs, sung with passion and art (and, in several cases, exquisite harmonies), will always soar.