Listen to Gentle, a powerful climate cry for help from Brisbane's Georgia Mae
The new single also arrives with an accompanying open letter about the Climate Crisis, and a rallying message about making a difference.
With the turmoil of the last decade's socio-political world, political music has become an elevated mainstay within pop culture. We've seen number one-charting success stories covering everything from suicide awareness and racism to sexual empowerment and gun violence, escalating within the Trump era - particularly within the US, and other areas of right-wing government - and staying even following his jousting; political art being elevated as the issues and topics affecting music fans only grow and worsen with time.
In Australia specifically, there's been a popularisation of songs addressing climate change - especially in the last few years. Bushfire crises in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia influenced the creation of some incredibly powerful music in the last two years, and beyond that, songs have darted between themes ranging from pollution to materialistic capitalism, highlighting essential topics needing addressing as they go. It's great to see as well, informing and educating new audiences about the climate crisis and the greater problems affecting our environmental world, all through something that's so digestible as music.
Similarly, it's something that Brisbane-based musician Georgia Mae seems to have encapsulated on her latest single, Gentle. On the surface level, the single is an aching burst of brilliance that reinforces the prowess introduced through her single Let You Go earlier in the year, shimmering with a gentle production that's enveloped by her powerful, tall-standing vocal. It's within the lyrics of that vocal, however, where Gentle's greatest strengths lie; the song being a powerful rally cry about climate justice, bringing awareness to the ongoing climate crisis.
When you bring everything together, Gentle becomes this interesting contrast between anxiety and bliss, juxtaposing this rich-sounding song with the darker, looming themes that scare you with the reality within them. "Everything I workshopped either sounded too depressing or too preachy..." she introduces the song. "But by finally taking a more light-hearted personal approach to this heavy subject, asking the listener to please ‘be a bit more gentle’, and juxtaposing that musically with an upbeat carefree vibe, I was able to open up thespace to make something fun while hopefully still getting an important point across (arguably, the most important point in existence)."
Stemming from the musician's connection to land - something that has long inspired her work, and is now at the brink of collapse - Gentle is a powerful tune, one that encapsulates the brilliance of Georgia Mae and the talent she uses to craft something so meaningful and rallying, yet so beautiful and potent at the same time. It takes a real artist to balance that contrast, and here, it seems Georgia has smashed through it in one shot.
Take a listen to the song below, and underneath, read an open letter penned by Georgia Mae, discussing the problems affecting the environment at the moment and how they inform her work and her being:
Georgia Mae's open letter on the climate crisis:
Gentle is a song about climate change. As I sit here trying to describe why I wrote it, I realise it’s a very personal song about a very big shared experience/impending catastrophe. Why did I write Gentle? Basically, my anxiety about our planet – our home, our everything – finally spilled over into a need to do something beyond recycling.
I’d been thinking about writing a song about climate change for a long time. This in itself was different because with sufficient motivation I can usually write a song in an hour or so. But this was the biggest, most complex of topics and too important to stuff up. I wanted it to be relatable, not preachy. I wanted to wrap the big unpalatable message in something fun and shimmery. I wanted a protest song that didn’t sound like a protest song.
Finally, frustration with ‘climate deniers’ and anger that the Australian Government isn’t more gung-ho about contributing with heart to the global climate agenda seemed to take over and it began to feel important to write the song NOW.
And there were other influences…
A few years ago, I heard former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, call climate change a “man-made problem with a feminist solution.” It’s a phrase that’s stuck with me. More recently, I listened to Mary – interviewed by 1 Million Women founder Natalie Isaacs – stress that the climate crisis needed women’s voices and that we should all do whatever we could within our context.
Then I came across a book called All We Can Save, which is a feast of perspectives on climate change contributed by women from around the world. The complexity of climate change is reflected in the myriad of views, which combine to demonstrate that we can all get on board in some way. One of the contributors, artist Favianna Rodrigues, is very passionate about the climate change movement needing a cultural strategy as well as a political strategy. She calls for artists of all types to step up and infuse the climate science with culture because not all people will be won over by reports about rising water. Favianna also stresses the need for a feminist lens and a lens of care – care for each other and for the earth, which resonates strongly with me.
Music is a powerful tool and writing songs like Gentle is, I believe, my best shot at making a difference.