Sometimes, it takes a moment of standstill and a one-off event that causes us to fall in love with our everyday existence again.
Sometimes, we need reminding to halt- to digest our surroundings and think about those things we take for granted but are lucky to have in this life, where we seem to be continually hunting for different elements such as success, time, happiness , money…
Tonight, on the tiny, wooden stage in the corner of surely the sweetest of London music venues, the gorgeousness that is Fanny Lumsden – with her stories of adventure and retrospection and her songs in the most optimistic of key signatures and with the most beautiful of harmonies – begins her simply stellar set. Moments previously, we had had the chance to meet and chat to Fanny, so we already knew what a special evening we were going to have. She is completely divine.
Fanny: tiny, pretty, her beauty inside exuding from every pore, is as warm as the Aussie sunshine and as refreshing as a cool splash of milk in your coffee. In her flares, cute red jumper and with her long curly dark hair tied up in a ribbon, she is the epitome of all that is good and wholesome, and when she starts to sing- well, it’s just heaven.
Fanny, on stage with her band ‘The Prawnstars’, tells us it’s her first gig in London, and without preamble, the music begins with four voices in close and luscious harmonies, singing Fierce. The sound is perfectly balanced, Fanny’s lovely, easy melody and effortless guitar accompaniment beautifully enhanced by Tom, her brother’s singing, her husband Dan on the stick bass and vocals and her cousin Paddy (always out of shot) on the guitar, including a fabulous solo in this song, and mandolin and vocals. Fanny’s broad, inclusive smile connects us and lights everything up.
“I think we’ve peaked already…” says Fanny as she describes playing on the Avalon stage at Glastonbury a few short weeks ago. The contrast between that enormous audience and the bijou and select gathering we are a privilege to be part of tonight is impossible not to remark upon, but Fanny loves to sing and you get the feeling it could be anywhere – that Fanny embraces and accepts everything with a happy, uncomplicated grace and gratitude. We could all use some of that outlook …
She sings Peed in the Pool (because she knows we all have…), a song with swing and sway, reflection and a country backbeat. “I’m learning to be graceful and I’m always chasing calm”- her message in these contemplative words underpinning so much of her style.
Fanny seems to write songs anywhere and everywhere- sometime they just “pour out of me in one go” and occasionally they are written with a muse in mind…She tells us how the next song When I die came to be written- the muse being a big ‘bushy’ man by the name of Brett and a meticulously planned celebration for his own wake; involving a bonfire in a truck, his ashes being fired out of canons on a hillside with an ‘awesome view’, and including asking Fanny how much she would charge to perform at it! Thinking he was joking, she named a huge sum and added a down payment of 2 loads of wood. When a few months later he arrived at her house with the first load of wood, Fanny tells us how the song just took off. This is a lively, feel-good yet poignant song about sticking to your guns and knowing what you really want- in life as well as death. It’s catchy chorus “When I die/I’m gonna shoot my ashes into the sky/Cheer as you watch them fly!” stays with you long after the music is over. An impressive guitar instrumental as the middle 8 gives time for reflection in the beautifully constructed verses and chorus, and ends by saying; “Please don’t cry- Because I/I lived a good life”.
And that is the message that is increasingly conveyed: song by song, story by story- Fanny is the epitome of the good life. Surrounded by her familial band (musicians and children), travelling the world singing her songs of joy with warmth, love and ebullience, while joie de vivre and good fortune buzz around her.
Her most celebrated album to date, ‘Fallow,’ is a collection of songs, every one of which is a winner. Coming out of the bush fires, written in the valley and recorded in a stone hut, Fanny explains how the fires became part of the story and the trauma became part of the story and the album was very much a part of processing this.
Grown Ups-with its poignant, emotive and hubristic yet funny lyrics touching the hearts of the audience with its own brand of pathos, is a finger-picking, harmony-infused perfection of a song, which is followed by Ugly Flowers– a new song that Fanny announces was just released yesterday (5th July) from her new album, Hey Dawn. Of all of Fanny’s intensely memorable songs and their stories, this, with its lyrical melody and flawless accompaniment is perhaps the most evocative, because it is about her family; the authenticity of what she sings all around her – physically as well as metaphorically! The vision of a big family party with Grandma at the heart, lots of different birthday cakes on the table to celebrate all the birthdays at that time, is imagery of what Fanny and her music is: a celebration of all things connected, familial, loving, joyous. And we at The Green Note this evening yearn to be part of it- and some of us are inspired to do the same with our families, with our lives; to be more Fanny.
Fanny’s music is about looking a little closer, thinking a little more about life’s glimmers, about feelings and acceptance of these, about life and always, hope. The golden thread that runs throughout the songs is that they are all (except for the fabulously entertaining and cleverly arranged Aussie mash-up before the interval) written by Fanny; the sentiments, stories, ideas and of course, the melodies, harmonies and chords embody the “glorious buzz” that she strives for – Sadness is acknowledged but ultimately, hope, gratitude, fun and love is at the heart of everything Fanny.
Fanny Lumsden played The Green Note Camden on July 6th 2023
Interview coming soon
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