Album Review: Grace Cummings – Refuge Cove

A woozy vibe that pulls you under, where you are left feeling drunk without touching a drop. Exquisite, desolate, beautiful – where Grace Cummings’ voice blazes a loving flash of energy like fire.

YMR Album Rating: **** (4/5)

The first thing that strikes an impression on this debut album, is the idiosyncratic and impassioned voice of Grace Cummings. Her voice sounding gritty, smoky, strong, sweet and then blazing a loving flash of energy like fire – like a combination of Sandy Denny, Odetta, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Marianne Faithfull – which stupendenously exemplifies the uniqueness of her wonderful sinuous voice.

Refuge Cove sounds as if it could have been made in 1969, where the music sounds so organic, where deceptively simple arrangements complement and create the colours for these amazing musical vignettes . Acoustic guitars, piano, mouth organ and Cummings’ voice. And no drums.

‘The Look You Gave’ is the first track – a desolate, expansive song, which brings together the elements and forces of nature such as wind, sun, fire and ocean with that tangible feeling of desolation. “The feather in my cap/It has blown away/Falling into an ocean /As cold as the look you gave” – such an expressive song, with an effective mouth organ solo that would make Paul Kelly proud.

The elements and the forces of nature are such an important part of this album. The songs exhale a dream of the Australian bush, intermeshed with the human condition – maybe the combination of heartache, longing, romance, comfort and a sense of recovery. The songs are just exquisite – each word of the songs flowing, moving and breathing to paint a picture – and due to the organic nature of the songs, the words are important – you get absorbed into these stories.

Refuge Cove needs time and space to enjoy. Maybe in an insular moment, where you can take time out from social media and the impersonal nature of this world. Take time to enjoy these wonderful songs, Cummings’ voice, the glorious arrangements – this album makes you feel woozy without even drinking a drop.

The album ends with ‘In The Wind’, where the aforementioned feeling of wooziness elevates. Where Cummings implores you to “Raise your glass/Stop your pissing in the wind“. A drunkenness prevails, and as the last piano chord ends, you are left wanting more.

Refuge Cove is out now.



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