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Words by Kate Lockyer {Kate Lockyer Music}

Naarm / Melbourne indie-pop songstress Georgia Fields drops her third full length studio album ‘Hiraeth’ today. The album takes its title from a Welsh word with no direct translation, referring to a profound longing for a home you can’t return to as it no longer exists, a sense of nostalgia or grief for the lost places of your past. ‘Hiraeth’ is a special album, filled with songs about motherhood, infidelity, death, to rapturous anthems of healing and home, an ode to many languages of longing. Fields will be hitting the road to launch the album with a national tour.

Find Your Way Back opens the album with a catchy “shk-shk-shk” vocal loop which was a demo placeholder intended to mimic a tambourine, which producer Josh Barber convinced Fields to keep. The song describes a sense of displacement: “What you seek is just out of reach / You can’t find your way back”. A rhythmic beat alongside the spacey synth suggests that the only constant is the fact that she is always floating along, with nowhere to belong. Fields’ voice is strong but a little hazy in parts, adding to the sense of drifting in the song. A bridge that sees Fields layering vocals with the instrumentation stripped from the moment grabs my attention as I listen.

The next track, Persuasion, is foxy and mischievous, with flirty lyrics, soulful vocals and warm guitar and rhythm. Fields says of the song, “I have plenty of songs about getting my heart broken, but I’ve done my fair share of misbehaving… I wanted to write an anti-hero pop song.” She sings that “it wouldn’t take much persuasion” to leave the person she is with to go back to her lover. The song has a memorable melody in the chorus, which is delivered in a velvety tone that makes you feel that Fields is whispering right to you.

Fields says that Holding My Hands Out is “about reaching your hands out for comfort but grasping at shadows”. The song matches this eerie description, with a slow beat, echoey, dissonant oohs and ahs in the background, and mysterious lyrics like, “Gotta feed the monkey at your breast” and “Feasting on all the things left unsaid”.

When To Leave The Party is a wistful love letter to a lost friend, with lyrics that evoke a vivid scene almost like a folk tale. Fields sings, “Sitting on the lap of the old Empress of India with your guitar” and “Said the blackbird to the fox / It doesn’t matter anymore / I wish you knew how much you matter to me”. She likens missing her friend to staying too long at a party after everyone has gone. Clarinet and other woodwinds add to the melancholy mood.

The next song, Water To Water is much more stripped back, with only vocals and low, buzzy electric guitar to tell the heartbreaking story. Here we learn of Fields’ experience of miscarriage, inspired by Mizuko Kuyo – a Japanese Buddhist ceremony to mourn deceased foetuses. She sings, “I never know I had so much in me / A star scrapes the sky like an arrow”. It is raw and mournful, but uplifting in its beautiful depiction of such a tragedy and its continuing hope. Her voice soars and murmurs, strong yet emotional.

In My Blood contains the tension of compulsion, a faint synth line meandering between hypnotic meditations on our nature. The click of percussion almost sounds like a ticking clock, and it is overlaid partway through with rippling layers of synth, guitar, background vocals singing, “Nature, nurture, pleasure”, and Fields riffing the line “In my blood” over the top, creating a swirling, captivating mix. Fields says, “I wrote In My Blood during the 2020 lockdowns. A few months prior to the pandemic, I had been diagnosed with acute postnatal depression and anxiety which saw me struggle to leave the house. Trapped in my own home like a lost sparrow in a shopping mall, I returned to some, let’s say, not-so-healthy coping strategies. Drinking too much. Eating too little. Wanting to numb some sensations and make others painfully loud. I started to question these old habits. Is it nature? Is it nurture? Am I broken? Maybe it’s in my blood.”

Tigress is probably my favourite track from ‘Hiraeth’, with its touch of fierce romance. Fields sings, “My heart is a tigress / It roars for you”. It has a light that is not present in some of her broodier songs, which she delivers equally well. The cheerful jingling of tambourine, the sentimental synth, bell-like at times, and punchy percussion all evoke a sense of euphoric love. The vocal runs on the words “you” and “true” are delightful in the richness of Fields’ voice.

Write It On The Sky is similarly upbeat and full of absolute bliss. Fields sings, “Gonna write it on the sky / Carve it on my heart / I can feel it in my bones / I am enough”. The song is about a radical self-love, and is backed by breezy guitar and synth, as the percussion beats its assent and affirmation of her words. It is what I imagine music would sound like if it was made by clouds.

How A Girl Becomes A Puddle flips between a soft storytelling and strident, rhythmic saxophone. It tells of a relationship breakdown, as Fields sings “This is how a girl becomes a puddle / This is how a boy becomes a stone that falls”. Partway through a saxophone screeches with abandon, bringing to mind the record-scratch freeze-frame of a scene in a movie, as things change in the relationship. The music then softens again, with angelic ‘ahs’ as the girl forgives the boy and asks him to come back home, to no avail.

The final song on the track, I Saw It Coming, is a wrenching, vivid ballad about grief and heartbreak. Every word is delicately picked to deliver a blow in each line, “Like a sparrow on the breeze / Like a soldier on his knees… Like initials carved upon an oak / Like the punchline from some joke”. This is the most powerful of the songs on the album, though it’s one of the shortest. A combination of understated piano, synth, and percussion frame the melody, which is captivating. The vocals take my breath away, so full of emotion, not a feigned moment in earshot. It really feels like Fields is spilling her heart out as she sings.

Fields shares: “Hiraeth feels like a homecoming. These songs have been in my head and heart since the pandemic began, some even earlier. I spent a long time dreaming of this album and realising the sound with my incredible producer Josh… I listened to a vinyl test pressing last week and I had goosebumps – my whole body was zinging! But strangely, I also felt very grounded at the same time. I just get this sense that ‘Hiraeth’ is arriving at exactly the right time. And I’m ready.” Thanks to funding support from Australia Council For The Arts, ‘Hiraeth’ was recorded over a 6-month period in Barber’s own studio – a 1930s converted church at the back of his rural property in Mollongghip, Victoria. Fields and Barber performed almost all the instrumentation across the album, with Jules Pascoe (Jazz Party; Husky) contributing bass guitar, and the Andromeda String Quartet making an appearance on three tracks. The album draws on their creativity to produce Fields’ unique sound, definitely worth a listen for those looking for something a little quirky.

Stream ‘Hiraeth’ HERE!


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With thanks to On The Map PR

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