Recently, Paris Wells sang the St Kilda theme song at this year’s AFL grand final, part one.
Recently, Paris Wells sang the St Kilda theme song at this year’s AFL grand final, part one. If you’re not into the football, you may know her from her the lineup of a variety of festivals, or her Sound Relief performance with Bliss ‘n’ Eso, with whom she has collaborated, or even the Myer ad that featured her song Grace Baby. If you’re smart, you would also be familiar with her first album with Illusive, 2008’s Keep It.
Her sophomore offering, Various Small Fires, is less about pain and heartbreak and more upbeat and eccentric than Keep It. The Melbourne soul singer has infused her sound with humour, electro-pop and femininity to create an album of diverse tracks all centered around one theme.
Inspired by the work of photographer Ed Ruscha, Various Small Fires opens with a moving introduction. Accompanied by classical piano, a man’s voice explains that “music is emotion-made manifests. Words bring meaning to music, music brings wings to words. Together they are song. I am the singer, you are the song.”
The title track follows and it’s a soulful offering with undertones of angst and dissatisfaction. The next track, Let’s Get It Started, is one of the standouts on the album. The story of a couple that has forgotten how to get it on, it follows their lack of sexual exploits. “Wanna know the rest, use your imagination,” the final line says. Sonically, it switches between eccentric, up-beat pop and smooth, seductive soul with twinkling piano throughout.
Another stand out track is No Hard Feelings, which is more in line with current trends in feminine indie pop. However, the lyrics are sophisticated, mature and deep, balancing the cute, sugary sweet music while acoustic guitar gives the song an extra layer of folky innocence.
“Love is not something you have, it’s something you do,” interjects the same deep male voice from that introduction before Believe In Me kicks in. This nostalgic tune is probably the song that best showcases Wells’ voice as she reaches higher notes and lets a gravelly element break up the perfection of emotive lyrics, lending contrast and complexity.
The two concluding tracks on the album round it off well as they’re exceptionally well-crafted tunes, each very different to the other. Through And Through is electro pop that borders on commercial and uninteresting but with the contrast of Wells’ unique voice and a driving euro dance beat, manages to be slightly more edgy than run of the mill.
Finale Let’s Go Home is a heartwarming showstopper. “Beds are made in rooms, for when the show has ended and its time and I can’t cry when you’re not mine / So baby let’s go home cause I’m tired of walking alone,” Wells sings.