Upon first listen, ‘Beware Of The Dogs’ immerses you in a folksy saccharine daydream, but once the candy-hued mist lifts and you scratch beneath the surface, a far more unsettling tale ensues. It’s safe to say that Stella Donnelly is far from shy when it comes to calling out the wrongdoers in the world. The themes weaving themselves through her debut album range from personal qualms, such as relationship woes, to wider societal issues like rape culture and toxic masculinity. Instead of wildly frothing at the mouth and screaming and kicking about various injustices, Donnelly calmly delivers her observational thoughts on these troubling times with satirical bite and sweetly sung vocals.
The joy in this record is its layers of complexities that can be appreciated by a wide-ranging audience for different reasons. For many this record may simply be a collection of hazy, slacker rock tunes for a sun- soaked lazy afternoon. For others it could be a relatable, lighthearted moment where Donnelly shares tongue-in-cheek stories of the mundane in the likes of ‘Season’s Greetings’ and ‘Mosquito’ or perhaps it is the unabashed and sardonic tone, stirring up a deep-seated rage as she takes down the patriarchy in ‘Old Man’ and ‘Watching Telly’.
Stella’s most potently tender track is undoubtedly ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ which she initially released at the dawn of the #MeToo movement back in 2017. The track describes the sexual assault of a close friend, addresses rape culture and highlights society’s propensity for victim blaming. The heartbreaking and affectingly lyrics set to a delicately looping guitar and soft vocals, creates something beautifully honest, relatable and truly compelling, albeit harrowing at times.
The power in ‘Beware Of The Dogs’ is its ability to capture the heart of every listener, allowing each individual to take away something unique from this album with different tracks speaking to different people based on their own personal experience. ‘Beware Of The Dogs’ encourages ongoing reflection and urges you to listen closely to what she has to say for herself, which in all honesty is some pretty important stuff.
Stella Donnelly has an unwavering ability to execute a subtly empowering and relevant record with derisive humour and mischievous wit.
Words: Yasmin Cowan
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