It’s funny to wonder what musicians think they will get out of the whole album-making thing. Money is usually wishful thinking; opportunities to see the world and amorous adventures, slightly less so. What then, does Grace Woodroofe ‘always want’? Well, for one thing, I’m sure she wants people to forget that she came to prominence at the tender age of 16, thanks to a tape of hers falling into the hands of fellow Australian Heath Ledger. Oh, and the sponsorship of Ben Harper, who produced this debut in LA. Further along in her career, it’s probable that her Australian heritage will cease to be the focus of attention, but hearing her for the first time, you immediately feel that quirk of evolution that lends uniqueness to Australian culture. It’s cultured, smooth and cosmopolitan, while simultaneously maintaining brusque, bluesy and rough edges.
The title song and Battles are all smoothed-over vocals laid on glassy chimes that approach, well, Philip Glass, really. Battles in particular is a deliciously dark domestic tale, telling of adventures “in the cash drawer” at a run-down restaurant. H. pulls the same schtick, verging on the woebegone and insipid melancholia of early Tom Waits, but lacking the verbals.
Tracks like Transformer are more engaging, where Woodroofe does a creditable Kim Deal impression among adorably fuzzed guitars. The follow-up should be interesting, if only because there is a slight lack of material, although the cover of Bowie’s Quicksand (whisper it) is the grown-up brother of the original version.