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 analogue 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 Donovan & The PutBacks have created a singular project that will command spins and ultimately stand the test of time” – KARASLAMB (Okay Player)