Andree Greenwell: Listen to Me

Keith Gallasch

As the deadline for this edition of RealTime loomed, I seized time enough to be absorbed by and write a few words about a new digital album from ever adventurous Australian composer Andrée Greenwell. Prompted by the debate around gendered violence, she has made Listen to Me with a host of largely female collaborators.

Very much of the moment but blessed with artistic and political durability, Listen to Me is an integrated, dramatic and poetic mix of many voices and instruments in a blend of art music, pop and music theatre of a kind that Greenwell has made distinctively her own over two decades with works like Laquiem, Dreaming Transportation, The Hanging of Jean Lee and Gothic, alongside the music for Bell Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis.

L-R: Ruth Wells, Andree Greenwell, Candy Royalle, recording session, Listen to Me, photo courtesy the artists

Greenwell alternates Listen to Me’s intensely lyrical, inherently dramatic songs (composed by her to words by Donna Abela, Eunice Andrada, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Alison Croggon and Candy Royalle) with readings of statements from a variety of women accompanied by treated instrumental improvisations. Autobiographical, political and theoretical, these provide the overall work with a documentary edge.

The songs above all warrant repeated listenings. A very welcome presence among the collaborators is visual artist, poet and performance artist Ania Walwicz with her unaccompanied, eerily voiced and grimly funny Doctor Proctor. The late Candy Royalle is heard reciting Fire to Ruth Well’s warbling tenor sax with words of pain but also of forgiveness.

Elana Stone, recording session, Listen to Me, photo courtesy the artist

The impressive singers are Melanie Horsnell, Elana Stone, Jessica O’Donohue, Louise Nutting and Greenwell herself; the accomplished musicians are Alana Blackburn, Louise Horwood, Rose Foster, Jessica Ling, Ruth Wells, Tristan Routh, Tonestar Leru, Novak Manojlovic, Jessica Dunn and Holly Conner. Playwright Hilary Bell was Listen to Me’s dramaturg.

Listen to Me encourages and warrants serious listening. It can be sampled and purchased on Bandcamp.

Top image credit: album cover art, Katerina Stratos

1 August 2018