A great voice and a way with words

Issue 

A great voice and a way with words

Returning on Foot
Girl Zone Records 1995
Reviewed by Anthea Holt

Penelope Swales has a great voice and a way with words. In her latest CD, this singer-songwriter takes the listener on a guided tour of her recent emotional travels and experiences around Australia, which many women will identify with. Her lyrics explore grief and healing, love and desire with an honesty and vividness which enhance the moods that the music expresses.

In songs like "The Panther" and "Brunswick St Cappuccino", she expresses sexual desire in a forthright way, confronting the usual vamp/virgin sexual stereotypes and objectification of women in mainstream culture. She also touches on topics like safe sex, the environment and black and white Australia.

Musically, this album is varied enough to attract those who are not folk devotees. It is mostly up-tempo and demands more than casual attention. Some of Australia's notable musicians support Penelope, including Al Barden (Frente), Mark Wallace (Weddings, Parties, Anything) and Kirsten MacKenzie and Pascale Rose (Arramaieda).

Swales is now on tour; dates include: Brisbane: the Zoo, June 29; Yardina, July 1; Van Goughs, July 6; Sydney: Three Weeds, July 14 & 28; the Challon, July 29.