10.07.2019

Emma Russack’s ‘Winter Blues’ is the album everyone needs to brave the dreary winter

Words by Tom Parker

The beloved Melbourne songwriter has delivered another inquisitive take on the world.

Emma Russack’s fifth studio album Winter Blues arrives at a time when all of us are feeling a bit unenthusiastic, a bit introspective, a bit forlorn. The calendar’s most despondent months are upon on us, but Russack would never want you to hide – it’s ok, everything’s ok.

It’s the worldliness of Russack’s songwriting that makes it so effectual. She’s no poet, no analogist, but prides herself on sincerity and such candidness materialises into one of the rawest records of 2019. The similarly tender, Big Thief’s U.F.O.F., has its wailing moments but much of that stems from Adrianne Lenker’s displeasure – Russack isn’t disgruntled, she’s at peace with acceptance and in more ways than one, she’s found life’s antidote to insecurity.

Take ‘Winter Blues’, the ultimate summary of the themes introduced above. This track is pungent in its scope and understanding – as Russack sings, “blame it on the winter blues”, we can sit in calm. The title track tiptoes into the record’s most strident capsule and it’s on ‘Be Real’ that the acoustic takes a backseat. Momentary four-word utterings make way for the most considerable statement on the album as Russack admonishes “you gotta be real, you gotta be real” in repetition – the only occasion on Winter Blues where her frustration billows over.

Winter Blues is a grounded assessment of social peril; it’s of no doubt there’s more astute commentary to come from Russack yet.