Australian Idol come good

From reality television show loser to rising international star, folk songstress Lisa Mitchell has proved that with a hotly tipped album of beautifully whimsical songs and Vogue worthy fashion style, she is not going to be another forgettable wannabe.

Like a devoted stalker, kitted out with the latest, most technologically advanced, satellite navigation system that money can buy, the stigma attached to previous contestants of TV shows such as Pop Idol or X Factor is a bit of a bastard to shake off. For most, stepping into the limelight after having been featured in such reality drivel is like being tarred and feathered before entering a beach and being told to try and blend in.

Though it seems that there are a few out there who can turnaround such situations and really make something out of it. Where most would simply wallow, there are some who would take on the feather-beach situation and mould their deformed bird-like appearance into something that could be hailed as fashionable swimwear, winning the admiration of others.

Lisa Mitchell is one such innovator, and she is making all the right moves to suggest that her stint on Australian Idol was nothing more than a step in the right direction, not the embarrassing ball and chain it could have quite easily have become. “I went along with my guitar and before I knew it I was on national telly, I didn’t really think it through at all, but it got me seen, and I signed with a brilliant management label, so it was completely worth it.” Her innocence and naivety a very understandable fact, given she was only sixteen-years-old at the time. Now at the grand old age of nineteen, she has just released her first studio album ‘Wonder’ and has stepped foot out of Oz to tour Europe and bless our ears with her blend of folk-pop.

“My dad had a great record collection, he always listened to Lou Reed, Van Morrison and early Dylan plus a lot of ’70s folk and I think that’s kind of ingrained in what I write. I think it’s kind of like folk music but with a pop sensibility, the songs are written like a pop song,” she explains of her debut. Full of unconventional love songs and dreamy odes to everyday life, ‘Wonder’ takes the listener on a fantasy ride through an Alice in Wonderland-esque world. Everything is told through the eyes of the poet, with each track holding a perfect balance of delicateness and angst. With a breathy, fairly unique vocal, Mitchell sounds interesting and dances us through this album of cleverly constructed tracks.

‘Neopolitan Dreams’ will be recognisable to many as the track from the Surf washing powder advert and showcases Mitchell’s signature vocal style. Unintentionally so, but in keeping with the washing vibe, single ‘Coin Laundry’ tells the story of falling in love to the sound of the tumble dryer whereas ‘Love Letter’ is about longing for but not being able to be with someone due to distance. It’s altogether an album of innocence and purity with an almost, dare I say, twee edge. However, rather than making some of us curdle in sickeningly sweetness, Mitchell keeps it appealing.

And, it must be said that apart from her music, her refreshing personality is another great appeal of the artist. A fair cry from the fame hungry contestants she must have surely once sang with, Mitchell is sincere, down to earth and simply into her music. She swears, doesn’t seem to dig anything that is overtly manufactured and has strong opinions about her contemporaries.

This is all making Lisa Mitchell an Aussie national treasure: she has just been nominated for three Brit-equivalent, ARIA awards - Best Female Artist, Breakthrough Artist (single) and Breakthrough Artist (album) - and is to feature in the country’s edition of Vogue. With a world tour now planned it is fair to say the girl is doing good, well, not bad for a runner-up.

Photographer Jessie Craig
Fashion direction Rose Forde
Stylist Jo Gilmour
Hair and make-up by Nathalie Bouziotas using Sue Devitt make-up
Words Tom Giddins

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