Episode #22 of Turning Heads features a chat with the great Emma Donovan.
Emma Donovan & the Putbacks just released their second album, Crossover, via Hopestreet Recordings.
Donovan has been active in the music scene for over two decades. As a kid, she would occasionally sing with her family members’ band, The Donovans, then in 1999 she cofounded Stiff Gins with Nardi Simpson and Kaleena Briggs. She appeared on the group’s Deadly-winning 2001 debut album, Origins, before leaving to pursue a solo career.
Donovan’s 2009 solo EP Ngarranga drew on her love of country music, which was her primary focus before teaming up with Melbourne funk-soul collective The Putbacks in the early 2010s. Donovan met the members of the PutBacks while touring as part of the Black Arm Band and she’s also previously toured as a backing vocalist for Archie Roach.
But none of this experience foretold the overhaul in Donovan’s musical outlook that occurred when she started working with The Putbacks. The debut album from Emma Donovan & the Putbacks, 2014’s Dawn, displayed the influence of artists like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Aretha Franklin, the Stax Records roster and a lot of contemporary neo soul.
We had to wait six years for a follow up, but Crossover finally arrived in early November 2020. The new album builds on the deep funk and soul of its predecessor, only this time it all feels more assured, more natural, and more potent.
In the podcast, Emma talks about her love of Melbourne and her appreciation for the guys in the Putbacks. She also talks about the song ‘Mob March’, which pays tribute to the history of Indigenous protest and acknowledges the growing power of the contemporary protest movement.