Tasmanian singer-songwriter Susannah Coleman-Brown assembled an idyllic ensemble of Australia’s south island’s finest jazz musicians to bring us her latest independent release, Hunger & Fate.
The six original tracks on the EP showcase Coleman-Brown’s soulful and versatile vocals and come supported by a troupe of Tassie talent: Jason Whatley on piano, Kelly Ottaway on the vibraphone, Beau Thomas on drums and Hamish Houston on the double bass.
After securing funding in 2020 from the Contemporary Music Fund via Arts Tasmania, while the rest of the music industry was at a standstill, Coleman-Brown clearly relished in the opportunity to be able to create new music – and give others a chance to create alongside her – bringing us a collection of new tracks that see the singer venture into her jazz roots in a way we’ve not seen from her in almost 20 years.
“There was an opportunity to showcase some incredible improvisers from Tasmania – at a time when the arts community really needed the money coming out of COVID-19. It was also an opportunity to stretch myself as a composer and to return to jazz after nearly two decades writing and performing in other styles,” she said.
While all the tracks on the record were written by the singer-songwriter, astonishingly the quintet came together and recorded the entire EP live in the studio. Considering the overall polish and power of each instrument within each song, it’s astounding there were no edits made to the recordings (except backing vocals added later on).
“I wanted to create a high quality recording that allowed listeners to hear exactly how we sounded in the room, on the day – to hear and feel the energy lifts as our solos take flight and the moments of deep hush where there is space and time to absorb what’s been ‘spoken’ in a solo – or to wait in anticipation as the sung story unfolds,” Coleman-Brown explained.
The album’s title track promptly sets the tone for the level of passion, authenticity and musicianship the EP goes on to express throughout its entirety.
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Immediately, ‘Hunger & Fate’ transports your mind to a late-night jazz club. The kind you stumble upon when you’re out exploring the world, unsure what to expect from the dimly-lit venue you’ve never heard of and unaware of the magic that lies within until you enter the doors and are entranced in the moment. It’s the best kind of travel experience and best kind of musical moment all wrapped up in one heart-filling night out. Or in Coleman-Brown’s case, one soulful, authentic, six-track EP.
When the world is a place that needs to be escaped from right now, Hunger & Fate is the antidote.
The stripped-back ballad ‘Away’ unveils the depth of emotion within Coleman-Brown, but the singer’s heartfelt and versatile vocals don’t stop there. While a more up-tempo number, ‘All I Needed’ exudes as much raw passion as the track that preceded it, and not without reason: impressively, the powerful vocal solo in ‘All I Needed’ was completely improvised in the moment – lyrics and melody included. The rest of the music-makers in the room followed suit and intuitively carried the magic Coleman-Brown was creating ad lib, before bringing the song to its natural ending.
‘All I Needed’ is the kind of jazz song even non-jazz lovers can get down to. It features the perfect combination of fast-hitting notes that make you want to wobble your side to side and just roll with it.
Rounding out the EP is ‘Try’, a lullaby-esque track which brings this fresh Australian jazz album – or our imaginary jazz night out – to an end in the best possible way.
Susannah Coleman-Brown’s album Hunger & Fate is out now. Stream it here: