Australia has always excelled at producing dark and gothic-influenced music. Nick Cave is the obvious progenitor but many others have explored the darker corners of sin and salvation and Melbournian Jemma Nicole has done just that with her debut collection of folk and country noir songs.
There’s a stately waltz and sway to many of the songs on ‘My Darkest Hour’. Mood is everything and she certainly imbues the music with the right amount of twang, organ, strings and funeral percussion, avoiding her songs descending into sombre dirges. The balance is there as she sings of doomed souls, the demon drink and temptation. She also, impressively, finds a stark and lonely desperation in Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’.
‘Guilty and Free’ and ‘If I Only Had A Gun’ shine some musical light and provide respite from the even slower, shuffling songs but really, the reward of this album is its dark beauty and the way Nicole has created a thematic consistency – like a leather-bound and well-thumbed book of tales from the turn of the century.
this review was first published in Rhythms Magazine