Something missing

Issue 

Something missing

Global Village
Judy Small
Larrikin Entertainment
Reviewed by Lisa Macdonald

This latest album from Judy Small is disappointing.

A collection of 12 songs, most written by Small with music by Small in collaboration with Hugh McDonald (ex-Red Gum), the album combines voice, guitar and fiddle in a good technical production which is completely faithful to the artist's acoustic performance style.

Despite the beautiful production, however, there is not much substance to this collection. Musically, the album is monotonous, with song after song based on the same basic tones and rhythm. Devoid of the passion and adventurousness that set Small's music apart in earlier decades, most of the music on this album is so mellow as to put you to sleep.

The lyrics are no more exciting. A few of the songs are stamped with the characteristic Judy Small humour — such as "Living in the Fast Lane", a tongue-in-cheek ballad about the information revolution from the perspective of one left behind, and "Song About a Writer", in which Small takes a wry look at her career as a song writer.

There is also a smattering of politics, or, more accurately, social commentary, including "What Was Her Name?", which celebrates the centenary of women's suffrage in Australia and asks "Who was the first woman to vote?". The cover song is a sad, even pessimistic song about the effect that events in the US have on our world.

On the whole, Global Village left this particular fan of Judy Small feeling that something, in fact a lot, was missing. It is the anger and irreverence with which Small, and other feminist performers inspired so many of us during the '70s which I most missed. That inspiration fuelled our courage to rebel against injustice, to fight for our own and others' rights and to build a powerful movement for women's liberation.

Today, Small's songs, somewhat like the movement, are focused inward and sound defensive. Global Village is far from the best Judy Small has on offer.