From the home of the wild colonial boy, this Castlemaine local is a true testament to the land and poetry of a time once gone.
Nadia Phillips’ first album ‘A Million Birds and One Stone’ is a truly breathtaking one hour and six minute experience. After setting the pace with two single releases ‘On Reflection’ and ‘Your Dark Side’ plus an EP with her band Nadia and the Girlfriends, this solo project is a perfect display of the upward motion Nadia is taking musically.
The album is very intimate, comprising songs written over the past year that circle love and heartache, self worth, self identity, the fragility of relationships, nostalgia and memory. With a collection of 13 songs,Nadia worked with prodigious musicians Finn and Jim Inkster to record the album to tape on their Tascam Portastudio 488 MKII, taking an analog route as a sonic exploration. It adds a finer detail to the experience of the sound.
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“The biggest thing about recording this album was that it was my first time recording to tape. Analog recording was such an intimate and involved process and I am so impressed by the quality of the sounds we were able to create. The raw tracks sounded very warm, close and lo-fi but after mixing and mastering the album became studio quality but still retained that warmth and intimacy.”
The entire album is highly emotive and feels very connected to not only Nadia but the people she worked with who included Uma Dingemans (Stop That Mammoth), Finn Inkster (Finn Quaid), Jim Inkster (Jim Matthew Inkster), Jezabel Furlong (Thistleswitch) and mixer and masterer Elvis Walsh (00_).
“Another thing I was keen to do was to invite my friends and community to submit artworks to the album project, and I’ve allocated one artwork to each track for release. I wanted this album to be very much a collaborative project and these artworks accentuate backstory as well as supporting emerging talent too.”
I felt a real sense of home and nostalgia as the stories throughout the album unfolded. Coming from Castlemaine, an area rich with history and natural beauty, this sentiment is especially felt in tracks such as ‘Rising Sun,’ ‘Bruises Again’ and ‘Housebound.’ Her folk style is almost like listening to a traditional Irish folk tune, the lyrics are carefully considered and her tone is emotive and subtle.
We do get glimpses of a certain vulnerability in Nadia’s voice and guitar playing, such as in ‘Bruises Again’ – possibly my favourite on the album, as Nadia respects the role of narrator and storyteller rather than taking over as performer. It’s a beautiful thing that very few artists can uncover.
Each track is the perfect length for the style of the album, nothing is rushed and each instrumental part is carefully considered. We find some more textures in ‘Recall, Recoil’ with a strong feel outlined by the bass and Nadia adds even more dimension to ‘Undress’ with a traditionally folky strings section.
There is an intimacy to Nadia’s playing that I so look forward to experiencing in person. Nadia is “really looking forward to getting back to performing live again, and sharing these songs to a live audience. There is really nothing more fulfilling!”
Overall, ‘A Million Birds and One Stone’ is deeply moving and personal – a true testament to the beauty of words whilst allowing the acoustic guitar to shine in all its glory.