Listening to Fremantle/Walyalup Americana artist Helen Townsend’s latest single, ‘Melbourne Streets’, I’m already feeling a bit sentimental. So the tears I shed as I listened to the song’s outro, are they about the opening of a new year — that mix of hope and trepidation that comes with a bit of age — lives unlived, loves lost and family scattered — or is it the Hah, ah, ah, ah’s of the McCrary Sisters’ backing vocals while Townsend sings about the rain falling on Melbourne Streets as the song fades out that is tugging at my heart?
I am definitely hooked. Townsend is at the top of her game with ‘Melbourne Streets’.
You know what, it doesn’t matter. Good music moves the listener, speaks to their heart, scrapes the barnacles off their soul and gives them the freedom to feel. By that definition, ‘Melbourne Streets’ is good music.
I’ve been following the current Townsend-Smith song cycle since the beginning. If you don’t know what I’m talking about check out Townsend’s and Smith’s to see and hear the flower they are unfurling petal by conjoined petal as they release call and response singles that ride the naked truths of their relationship. If I’m right, ‘Melbourne Streets’ is Townsend’s response to Smith’s current release, ‘I’m Gonna Change’. In the review of ‘I’m Gonna Change’ I called Smith a ‘hound dog of love’ and questioned his integrity. It’s not that I hate all men, it’s just the belly crawling snakes who’ll do anything to win back the woman they have wronged. So, Townsend’s response here is important for every woman who’s ever had skin in the relationship game.
‘Melbourne Streets’, a cowrite with much loved Perth/Boorloo folk artist Helen Shanahan, sees Townsend in a reflective mood, seeking escape as she sings lines like, If you don’t like what you find / Leave it all behind. Her melancholy is wrapped up in a piano and guitar entanglement that is so simple and compelling it reminds me of the Margaret Atwood poem, you fit into me / like a hook into an eye / a fish hook / an open eye, as does the content of Townsend’s lyrics. Through it all, Townsend’s voice, as trans-Pacifically surefooted as ever, catches every now and then as she walks grey streets under solemn skies wondering, How did I get fooled again?
I am definitely hooked. Townsend is at the top of her game with ‘Melbourne Streets’. Over to you, Hound Dog.