If you need a reason to buy Spinning Wheels, the new album from Queensland artist and 2015 Toyota Star Maker grand finalist Dana Hassall, it comes in the first song, 'Fit Somewhere', in which Hassall's voice is immediately captivating. She sounds direct yet vulnerable - singing straight to the listener instead of commanding them to listen.
The album features a good blend of country, with traditional sounds appearing on 'Corner of the Street', pop sounds, as on the opening track 'Talking to a Stranger', and elements of rock ('Love Backwards'). It's clear that Hassall fits the style of music to the lyrics, which speaks to her maturity as an artist: she knows to get out of the way of any expectations or ideas she might have and give the song what it needs.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that I love the album, and sometimes I wish reviews could be that simple and straightforward, except I also know that producing an album that evokes that response isn't a fluke and it isn't the work of a beginner, either. All wonderful pieces of art, whether they're albums or books or movies or paintings, are the sums of their parts - there is always, always, skill and hard work behind them. And there's also that element that exists in the ether, the element that makes them greater than the sum of their parts. Maybe 'talent' is what we call it. Or instinct. The instinct to deploy the talent in the best way possible. Hassall has it, and the album's producer, Matt Fell, might have helped coax it out of her but it had to be there anyway.
From the sounds of this album, Hassall has the ability to entertain country, pop and rock audiences and do it in a way that all feel included. For me, as a listener, it's the poignant, wistful moments I love the most - but that's just me. Different people hear different things in songs, and happily Hassall has created an album in which there's a lot to discover.
Spinning Wheels is available now.
Dana Hassall is launching her album on 5 February at the Irish Club Hotel, Toowoomba, Qld and on the 6th at The Walrus Club, Brisbane.