Album review: Unplugged by Kelly Brouhaha

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It might seem hard to believe in things these days. In luck, in love, in hope. As we continue to drag through the pandemic, with so many people’s lives adversely affected, those three things are in short supply for all but the most determined. It’s the sort of time when we need to turn to art, except so many artists haven’t been able to bring their work to us in person, or they’ve been doing that and been put on pause again. That was the environment in which South Australian singer-songwriter Kelly Brouhaha created her new album, Unplugged. She made her living on the road and suddenly the road had to take her back home, into lockdown, with no shows for the foreseeable future.

Unplugged was recorded live featuring the show Brouhaha is currently while she also works on her next studio album, which is due for release early next year. Unplugged was partly created by the love of Brouhaha’s fans, who crowdfunded it, and fully created with love by Brouhaha. And oh, it is so gloriously wonderful to find it as a listener because it will bring you back to those three things: luck, to come across the album; love, because you fall into that with it; and hope, because a production as irrepressibly joyous as this can’t help but instil that in you.

The opening track is new song ‘Poets, Troubadours & Me’ and Brouhaha could actually stop there, because there is so much in that song: a statement of intent, a paean to the Australian landscape, an embrace of anyone listening. But she goes on, to offer two other new songs, ‘Watch Fires Burn’ and ‘Campfires’, and acoustic versions of some of her previous releases as well as a cover of The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ that sounds like it was meant to be.

Fans of Brouhaha’s will no doubt cherish this document of her live sound. Those who are new to her work may think that, as an acoustic album, it’s somehow less-than the studio versions of these songs, except live is where Brouhaha lives, so Unplugged captures the essence of her while also showing that her voice and a guitar are big enough to create a complete experience. Especially because Brouhaha opens her heart wide enough to embrace the world. Her voice is old and new at the same time, wise and whimsical, cracked and smooth. It’s the voice of an accomplished singer who has dedicated herself to being a storyteller. It’s at the heart of this album, and it will captivate you from the start.

Unplugged is out now.

https://www.kellybrouhaha.com.au