Each week, editor Jessica Myers finds rising artists that students might want to tune in to.
Who is Stella Donnelly:
After listening to a few of her warm and witty songs, it’s hard not to fall in love with Australian singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly.
Donnelly released her debut album “Beware of the Dogs” on March 8. The thirteen-song album is filled with slower indie-pop/alt-pop tracks and riddled with a few upbeat and memorable songs. This album is an honest dive into Donnelly’s world of Virgos, vibrators, politics and way, and I mean way, more.
Donnelly proves she isn’t here to scratch the surface when it comes to musical themes and singsong lyrics. Instead, her album focuses on issues that fall under the #MeToo movement, victim blaming, fear of death and more.
Her music has a sense of yin and yang of playfulness and seriousness – she knows when to buckle down and discuss sensitive subjects through her art, but also when to just have a good time.
"Beware of the Dogs" has a pretty simple production, and this allows Donnelly to use her unique Australian accent-clad vocals and relevant lyrics to guide the meaning and experience of this album.
The album opens with track “Old Man,” which is a straight up middle finger to all the men who make women's skin crawl in the world, especially those who don’t get reprimanded for their actions. The tune serves as just the beginning of Donnelly’s frustration with the world and is the perfect start to her debut album. The lighthearted yet jabby song is incredibly relatable to all women who have been received unwanted attention from men, older men (or even ones with wives!) in particular. Favorite lyrics: “Oh, are you scared of me, old man? / Or are you scared of what I'll do?”
“Tricks” is a great example of a song that shows Donnelly’s young, charming side. This alt-rock, almost comedic number is just downright fun. There’s witty wordplay featured in this track, and is worth the listen even if to simply hear Donnelly spit out the word “muck” in such an Australian fashion.
“Boys Will Be Boys” is an ode to victims of sexual violence, and calls out victim blamers and abusers alike. It ends with the lines “Like a mower in the morning / I will never let you rest / You broke all the bonds she gave ya / Time to pay the f****** rent.” It’s a heart-wrenching track that is woven with personal details and pain. This ballad rings like a lesson, and is arguably the most impactful and meaningful song off the album.
“U Owe Me” has a rhythm that tickles down your spine. The way the gentle guitar track echoes with Donnelly’s vocals sounds blissful yet frustrating as she recalls her experience working with an old boss at a pub. “I don't think I'll ever be coming back / To work for you, so you can tell them that / You just turned out to be a bellyache / I don't believe a single word you say.”
Astrological signs, cheese and wine, fear of death and more are elements in “Die,” the ninth track on “Beware of the Dogs.” This is her most popular song on Spotify at the moment with almost 400,000 listens, and one of the more upbeat tracks on the album. With hints of psych-sounds paired with cheeky lyrics, this song fits perfectly on any local hipster’s house party playlist. I can see it now – everyone is dancing around in their thrifted jeans as the lyric “I don't wanna die” is repeated over and over and over again. Lovely.
If you’re looking for some playful, politically aware indie-pop music, Stella Donnelly’s debut album is the right listen for you.
No upcoming shows in the Phoenix area.