Grace Cummings unleashes a whirlwind of emotion in new album, Storm Queen
The Melbourne based singer-songwriter showcases her captivating voice and authentic stories.
The rich raw lyricism of Grace Cummings was introduced to us last year, when she gifted us the hauntingly beautiful single Heaven, a release which came with the announcement of an album on the way. We are delighted to hear and share that this sophomore album is out now on Sugar Mountain Records/Virgin Music Australia, titled Storm Queen. The 11-track release shares many similarities to a literal storm, possessing elements of pure natural power, a force surely to be reckoned with. Harnessing a whirlwind of emotions and sounds - like some sort of musical airbender, Grace Cummings self-describes Storm Queen as her being “just focused on creating what I love the most: something real and raw and ugly and beautiful.”
Her songwriting draws inspiration from her earleir years, her father playing Irish folk tunes around the house, Grace sharing that “Irish melodies are some of my favorites; they go to such dark and dramatic places”. This influence subtlety shines through here and there in the Storm Queen, cutting through at its strongest in the delightfully harmonious track Always New Days Always. Iconic Australian singer-songwriters Paul Kelly, Bob Dylan, and Spiritualized frontman J Spaceman are also credited as inspirations that moved Grace to start writing original compositions. Their influences speckled through-out various tracks, most evidently in Up In Flames, and Freak. Additionally, Grace’s lyricism absorbs characteristics from literary influences such as Shakespear, the multi-disciplinary creative having attended drama school and spending a good portion of the last decade performing in Australian theatre. She imparts that “To me poems and stories are sometimes more of an inspiration than music, because they don’t give you a melody: you have to just imagine your own”.
To open the album Storm Queen is 2021’s single Heaven, which straight off the bat scoops you up in the distinctive vocals of Grace Cummings. Flourishes of acoustic guitar, and swirling strings cradling you as clouds roll in on the horizon, distant tambourine shakes cracking like rhythmic thunder. Grace’s voice is a commanding force that is incredibly identifiable, and very much sits in the centre of its own unique universe. Around it orbits the gentle plucks of guitar, strums of chords, pattering of keys, and rivers of strings. A rather stripped back approach that adds just the right amount of backing, so as to not distract or take away anything from the raspy, almost blues-tinged vocals she can deliver both gently, and with unruly power. Track ten: Storm Queen, demonstrates what happens when that power reaches a pinnacle, combining with musical textures and instrumentation to unleash a moving performance that is truly goose-bump evoking. A breath-taking composition that comfortably holds its position as the title track for the album.
On creating the release, Grace found it important to trust her instincts, expressing that “If I feel like I have something I want to write, I just get it all out in the moment.” Songs like Here Is The Rose demonstrate this well, not having a repeating lyrical hook but rather a repeating melodic hook for “I could cry, I could cry” and then later with “I’m alive, I’m alive”, playing on words to better fit with the narrative of the song. Even with the recording process, the musician follows instrinct, explaining that “I’m not precious at all about recording; it just doesn’t make sense to me,” “I am who I am and I sound how I sound, and I’m not really interested in going in like some kind of magician to try to make it sound any different.”
Coming in at just shy of fourty-two minutes, Grace Cummings writing and performance in Storm Queen is an sensory experience from start to finish. Settle in for a journey from track to track as you explore the body of work below.