Album review: Invincible by Michelle Little

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Michelle Little is a singer-songwriter who grew up in the Central West of New South Wales/Wiradjuri country and now lives in the inner west of Sydney/Eora country. Over the past few months she has released the singles ‘Nice to See You’, ‘Time’ and ‘You Don’t Have to be a Hero’, her first original music since the 2008 album Hear Me Now. Those three singles can be found on Little’s new album, Invincible, which has a simple title that implies much, because no one becomes – or wants to become – invincible without a story attached. Little gives us that story, and also really delivers it with her voice.

When the album opens – mildly, in terms of mood, with ‘Nice to See You’ – we feel like Little is sitting us down for a long-overdue catch-up, which she somewhat is. She then takes us through the whole beginning, middle of end of what’s been happening to her. From 2016 to 2019 Little experienced two forms of grief, with the end of her marriage and death of her father. The difficulty of that time can be heard in several of the songs, but what can also be heard in each of the songs is Little’s determination to pull through and emerge stronger (and, perhaps, invincible). In her lyrics she clearly articulates her circumstances and what she’s doing about them; in her voice she signals the emotion of what’s happened, sometimes with wavering and doubt, but always allowing her voice to reassure the reader that she’s still here, standing strong. There are some lighter moments – such as ‘Gone Drinkin” – which contribute to the impression of this album as a portrait of a life rather than just of one period of time. That makes it a very well-rounded and rich offering.

Little is a fan of Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn and those influences can be heard in the styles of music appearing the album, although Little’s voice is identifiably hers. Her tone is strong, sometimes strident, sometimes confessional, and is matched beautifully by Michael Carpenter’s production, keeping the listener close so that we pay attention to everything she’s saying. This is an album that really rewards repeat listening, as your appreciation of Little’s lyrical and technical skill deepens each time. It has to be said, though – a little strangely, perhaps, given the subject matter of some of the songs – that it’s also really entertaining, so if you have it on in the background you may not realise exactly how many layers of story Little gives us. But it’s really worth paying attention, if only so you appreciate that entertainment more, knowing that it comes from an artist who has put the time and heart into wanting to connect with you.

Buy the CD from www.michellelittle.com.au

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