The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Stephen Fitz­patrick

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.

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