Stella Donnelly

Arriving for her New York debut after a week of relentless SXSW hobnobbing, Stella Donnelly apologizes if she seems tired. She begins with a cover of a Lianne Le Havas song whose inflection she jazzes out, stretching the words further than they can bear. She does the same to the disco beats of the Basement Jaxx hit “Good Luck” and further scatting accompanies “Talking,” a bonus track recently added to her debut EP, Thrush Metal, which Dead Oceans re-released after signing her earlier this year.

Stella Donnelly

Stella Donnelly

These gestures suggest she is etching out different territory then her most immediate points of comparison; hailing from Australia, her music feels complimentary to that of indie heartthrob Courtney Barnett as well as labelmate Alex Lahey, who she has toured with and, incidentally, has a background in jazz. But Donnelly’s voice sounds most her own when she directs it toward her peers’s angst-fueled strumming. From the headline-snatched storytelling of “Boys will be Boys” to the wiry anger of “Mechanical Bull,” her best work to date, she sounds ready to lash with righteous anger. Over spare minor chords and in a chilled gasp, she tells her subject just what will happen if they remain latched on her back for too long. Emotional labor is as arduous to talk about as it is to endure but Donnelly’s pastiche Western holds a bitterness darker and richer than words. This is A Room of One’s Own as a punk song, a priceless anthem for our times.

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Thrush Metal is out now on Dead Oceans.