On occasion I'll stray away from writing about country music - but only for a good reason. In the case of Sydneysider Ella Belfanti's debut EP, Going in Circles, there are plenty of good reasons.
Belfanti nominates her genre as folk but there's a fair bit of indie pop and rock in her sound. This EP evokes some Sydney indie music from the early 1990s but this is in the form of an echo rather than influence. And what's hers alone is a wonderful voice that can be gutsy and rich and also exquisitely sweet. She has also written songs that are lyrically and musically thoughtful and well developed.
Belfanti has played all instruments and sung all the vocal tracks on these six songs that were recorded in her bedroom. Those instruments include semi-acoustic guitar, flute, drum kit, cajon, bongos, bass guitar, and some found objects. Also worth mentioning: Belfanti is seventeen. And her age is not the point so much as the fact that she has developed a broad skill set in not many years. Indeed, when I read about her age I thought maybe the songs would be a good exercise in nostalgia for my own years of teenage trials and tribulations - and there is a bit of that, but mainly what I hear in Belfanti's work is a lack of cynicism that is not all the same thing as teenage naivety, and vigour that is arguably as much to do with this being her first EP as it is to do with her age.
To hark back to the 1990s again, there was another artist whose first publicly released work was recorded at home, by her alone: Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville. Newer technologies give Belfanti an edge when it comes to what she can create entirely alone, but what they can't give her is the confidence in her own voice (singing and otherwise) that's on this record and which make her sound like a more experienced performer than Phair at the same stage. This is an artist in her element, with a wide vista open in front of her.
Going in Circles is available now.