When Melody Pool released her debut album, The Hurting Scene, in 2013 it felt like a new seam of gold had been discovered in the hills of the Hunter Valley. Hailing from the small town of Kurri Kurri, Pool had honed her talent young and produced a record of incredible beauty and maturity.
She doesn’t live in Kurri Kurri any more, but Pool’s musical output is not, apparently, defined by where she lives because she has produced a second album that has obvious roots in The Hurting Scene yet is quite different – and just as beautiful.
The direct descendants of Deep Dark Savage Heart seem to be the lines ‘What a waste I am/What a waste I am indeed’ from the second song of The Hurting Scene, ‘Open Book’. The lines are incongruous in that song, which otherwise sounds poignantly evocative. The lineage is picked up in 'Black Dog', the fifth song of the new album, which is the centrepiece of this extraordinary, compelling piece of work; it’s there in the line ‘Nobody sees what I do to me’. ‘Black Dog’ is dramatic where ‘Open Book’ almost wants to hide from itself, but the development signals that Pool is ready, finally, to accept what is obvious: she is a major talent, and she should get dramatic about herself. She should stand on pedestals and command attention; she should trust that what she is offering is valuable and rare.
If The Hurting Scene was a mature effort from a young woman, Deep Dark Savage Heart is a sophisticated production from a proper grown-up. Pool’s voice is deeper and richer than it was on the first album, although no less capable of the sweetnesses that were evident on that album.
I wrote of the The Hurting Scene that it made me almost immediately want to lie down and wonder what on earth had just happened. Deep Dark Savage Heart had the same impact. I’ve still never recovered from the first album, I don’t expect to recover from the second, and that’s the privilege of living in a world that produces an artist like this. Melody Pool is a gift.
Deep Dark Savage Heart is out now through Mushroom.