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Emma Donovan & The PutBacks - Dawn (CD/LP, HopeStreet Recordings, 2014)

The PutBacks is one of the rising funk bands in Australia. They came to our attention in 2011 with their first two 45s, 'Diamond Cutter' and 'Busted', and we were lucky to be able to license the b-side of their latest single 'Spanish Harlem on friendly label HopeStreet Recordings, for Paris DJs first soul/funk compilation 'Killas, Thrillas & Chillas'. The tune ('The Worm') is one of best pieces of instrumental funk we've heard this year, so the expectations for this full length were quite high. The album's featuring indigenous vocalist Emma Donovan was really hard to pin down, but in the end after a few listens it clearly reminds of classic Dusty Springfield or Bobbie Gentry records from the early 70s, of some good old American soul-rock drenched in classy funkyness. Favorite track is this mainly late-night, bluesy and souful affair is the scorching mid-tempo opener 'Black Woman', rather perfect with its wah-wah guitar, organ slabs, and epic psychedelic soul vibe!

Emma Donovan and The PutBacks - Dawn
Emma Donovan & The PutBacks - Dawn
(CD/LP) HopeStreet Recordings HS015, 2014-11-10

Links :
Emma Donovan : official | facebook | instagram | twitter
The PutBacks : official | facebook | juno | parisdjs | soundcloud | twitter | youtube
HopeStreet : official | facebook | juno | parisdjs | soundcloud | twitter | youtube

Press Release :
Acclaimed indigenous vocalist Emma Donovan and Melbourne rhythm combo The PutBacks come together to bring you Dawn, an LP of hard hitting and heartfelt soul songs telling stories of grief, struggle and redemption. Dawn is a gritty, uniquely Australian record, simultaneously classic and contemporary. The songwriting is in turns optimistic, angry and melancholic, and on occasions bruisingly honest. The music is fluid, live and raw, recorded in one room on eight channels of analog tape and the electric connection between Emma and the band comes through in every beat.

Dawn takes some cues from the burgeoning soul revival, but it's a far looser interpretation than many releases in the style. This is no attempt at reviving a bygone era. There's no horn section. There's more rock in there. There's more country in there. There's more, in Emma's words, "blackfella music" in there. The songwriting is more akin to classic Aboriginal bands like Coloured Stone than it is to Sharon Jones. The sentiment is personal, for both Emma and the band, and forward looking, rather than revivalist. Shades of every soul record you ever liked sneak through: Al Green's Hi Records era? Check. Aretha's Classic Atlantic recordings? Check. Stacks of Stax? Check. It's all there, but all different. Dawn is it's own thing, indigenous Australian soul. From the ferocious opening salvo of Black Woman to the sweet and gentle comedown of Over Under Away, Dawn is above all a journey through Emma's life written in song.

Emma grew up singing church songs with her maternal grandparents on the North coast of New South Wales. Her first secular gigs were singing in The Donovans, a band comprised of her mother and five uncles. With her mother, Emma sang country for years, and in her youth was a fixture at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, but she always yearned for the bluesier tones of her Father's record collection, full of American artists like Laverne Baker and Etta James and Indigenous Australian artists like No Fixed Address and Archie Roach.

Years later, after touring and recording with many of the mainstays of Indigenous music and developing as a solo artist in her own right, Emma met members of The PutBacks, and finally she found a band with the gritty blues soaked tones she had been looking for. She also found, in PutBacks bassist Mick Meagher, a co-writer and collaborator on the the soul songs she had been waiting a lifetime to write and sing. The results are well worth the wait and hopefully, only mark the beginning of this oh-so-right collaboration.

"Emma's voice is everything you'd want in a soul singer. She's the real deal" - Francis Devin Rimer (Wax Poetics)
"The PutBacks lay down a groove exactly how I want to hear it: With super-heavy authentic tones, attitude and feel…" - Lance Ferguson (The Bamboos/Lanu)
"If the JB's had their own monorail, the Putbacks have a steam train that runs right from Australia directly to every record player in the world" - DJ Prestige
"Diamond Cutter is fresh — it's cheesy enough to make white people dance but it's not cheesy at all… it's got the same kinda swinging feel as Tighten Up or Razor Blade, but still grooves hard like a JB/Pee Wee Ellis 45. Party starter! CAUTION: May induce white man's overbite!" (R) Rex (Northside Records)



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