Stella Donnelly - 'Beware of the Dogs' Album Review
It’s embarrassing how few albums have sparked a thoughtful response from me in recent times. Embarrassing for me, or embarrassing for the artist, I’m not sure, but it’s a rare reaction nonetheless. Stella Donnelley’s debut album Beware of the Dogs, though, is one of those that generates something other than “yeah, this is alright”.
For an artist who is a self-proclaimed ‘shit-stirrer’, I’m still a bit in shock with just how raw and unapologetic Beware of the Dogs is. That’s a phrase that gets passed from one record to the other--everything is “personal” and “emotive”, when sometimes they’re neither of those things, just about a breakup--but here it’s actually applicable. On the stark opening track ‘Old Man’, Stella calls out an unnamed (but I wish we knew who this is about) man for his abusive sexual acts. Paired with the upbeat, folky acoustic guitar that characterises all of her music, these lyrics seem like they should be incongruous--but the way Stella delivers her scathe is so malleable, it could fit anything.
There are some tracks where Stella is so on the nose, you can’t quite believe you’re finally hearing this outside of Twitter or a pint-fuelled pub debate. ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ carries the lyric “Your father told you that you're innocent/Told you, ‘Women rape themselves’/Would you blame your little sister/If she cried to you for help?”, which is sincerely asking the questions that not many people are willing to answer.
It’s not all about the lyrics, though. There’s also genuine, actual musical quality here: we are given Stella’s almost sing-song childlike vocal, which emphasises everything she’s singing about. Every song has catchy, lo-fi, easy listening guitars, and it’s something Stella should be overwhelmingly proud of.
Put it on to piss off your grandparents, instil yourself with feminist rage, or just listen to some damn good music. Whatever your reason, don’t let Beware of the Dogs fall off your to-listen pile.
Listen to the album below.