This past Tuesday, I had the privilege of seeing one of my favorite artists live in concert: Stella Donnelly. After borrowing a friend’s car, I made the up-and-back trip from Tucson to Phoenix on a raining Tuesday night. While weaving in between semis and racing up a rain-soaked I-10, the clouds hung low from the weight of the rain and rays of sunlight perforated the clouds, showering the desert in brilliant shades of purple, orange, and gold. The innate beauty of the drive left me feeling comfortably numb and served as a harbinger from the dreamlike night that was soon to follow.
Stella Donnelly is a singer-songwriter hailing from Perth, Australia. She is currently touring America with Natalie Prass, playing her debut EP Thrush Metal which, she released in April of 2017 in Australia and New Zealand. Her EP gained major traction online, with poignant and powerful hits like “Boys Will Be Boys” and “Mechanical Bull”. With a growing international following, she re-released Thrush Metal with an additional song, “Talking”, in February of 2018.
Upon my arrival at the venue, Valley Bar, the rain that had been waning, abruptly turned into a heavy downpour. Running for cover, I made my way into Valley Bar where I was met by a member of Stella’s team who led me back to the green room where we conducted the interview. This was my first interview, so I was initially nervous, however Stella was one of the most humble, caring, and interesting people I have ever met. It felt less like an interview, and more like a conversation with a friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time. After the interview, we chatted a little bit longer and I have to say, Stella Donnelly is an international treasure and must be protected at all costs. She’s sweet, witty, and thoughtful and I was lucky to see her live, let alone interview.
Her performance went even better than the interview. Stella’s musical style is stripped back to its simplest form. Just a girl and her guitar. Her voice is absolutely captivating, carrying personal lyrics, and ethereal melodies along with entrancing guitar playing that can switch from soothing, to in your face on a dime. Arguably, her strongest attribute as an artist is how genuine she appears on stage. Her facial expressions, mannerisms, and vocal delivery paint evocative pictures of scenarios and emotions making it impossible not to be sucked into her aura. Her setlist consisted of songs from Thrush Metal, along with songs that she typically plays live. This provided a healthy balance and showcased her true range as an artist. The fact that Stella seamlessly fits songs like “I Should’ve Stayed At Home”, a song about an awkward tinder date, and “Boys Will Be Boys”, a song about sexual assault, into her set is indicative of her unique perspective on the world: seeing the ugliness of the world, and still doing your best to smile and laugh at the little things. She even graced us with a song for her upcoming album called “Beware the Dogs”. The politically charged song addresses the mistreatment of Australia’s Aboriginal people by their government. This was personally my favorite part of the entire set as Stella flexed her vocal chops on the song, while delivering a forceful yet delicate performance, rife with nuance and personality.
Following the concert, I walked back to my car in the rain, but the environment around me had changed: the drops were no longer thick and oblong, rather, they were delicate and mist like. The rain was illuminated by the warm, golden glow of street lamps, giving the impression of a light flurry of snow. On the long drive back down to Tucson, the taillights of passing cars glinted off the raindrops resting on my windshield. This encapsulated my entire experience with Stella Donnelly. Nestled into a dreamlike state, this experience left with a dumb smile on my face long after the final song had been played. Her music was enthralling, her personality was infectious, and she was fantastic. I can’t say enough positive things about her, so do yourself a favor and listen to her music. You won’t regret it.