Amanda Brown
Amanda Brown | Credit: CarbieWarbie

Amanda Brown, Formerly of The Go-Betweens, on Eight Songs That Inspire Her

Amanda Brown, an accomplished soundtrack composer and former violinist in The Go-Betweens, has released her debut solo album, Eight Guitars. It consists of eight songs, the majority of which feature a guest guitarist. The only track to not feature a guest is a cover of The Church’s ‘Unguarded Moment’.

The album begins with ‘Freedom Song,’ featuring Sydney iconoclast Kirin J Callinan. The likes of Shane O’Mara (Rebecca’s Empire, Stephen Cummings’ Lovetown), Bruce Reid (Dragon), and one-time David Bowie guitarist, Brendan Gallagher, keep Brown company as the album goes on.

The bulk of the record came together over the last few years, but the project has been on Brown’s mind for two decades. “I wouldn’t have had the self confidence to release a solo album back when I first started recording these tracks,” Brown said in a statement. “But now I’m a postmenopausal woman – I don’t over-analyse and just get on with it.”

To coincide with the release of Eight Guitars, Amanda Brown tells Music Feeds about eight songs, new and old, that have inspired her.

Amanda Brown – ‘Light Lingers On’

Jen Cloher – ‘Mana Takatāpui’ (2022)

Amanda Brown: This joy bomb of a song is an exploration of Jen’s Māori heritage and a celebration of acceptance. The lyrics reveal a sense of humour and the song has a wonderful, feel-good chorus. I have enormous regard for Jen and Milk! Records, the label they founded with Courtney Barnett. They saw an industry that wasn’t inclusive so they created their own pathway and opportunities for other artists who might never have been supported otherwise. Respect.

Joni Mitchell – ‘Come In From The Cold’ (1991)

Amanda: It’s nigh impossible to single out one song by Joni as her back catalogue is incredible. As a lyricist, she’s up there with Cohen and Dylan. I love this song for its mood of nostalgia and sense of time and place. Joni is a true poet – who else would use the word “incendiary” in a song? I had to look up what it meant and I may have stolen it for my song ‘1973’.

Ethel Cain – ‘Crush’ (2021)

Amanda: There’s much that is broken in regards to music streaming, but I have to thank the recommendation algorithm for leading me to Ethel Cain. She’s 24 years old and astonishingly good. When I hear a song I love, I play it on repeat and have to stop myself after a while because I never want to get sick of it. That happened with this song – it’s a terrific example of dream pop with amazing production, seductive lyrics and a guitar part I absolutely adore.

Bobbie Gentry – ‘Fancy’ (1969)

Amanda: I discovered Bobbie Gentry relatively recently via the podcast Cocaine & Rhinestones. I knew her famous song ‘Ode To Billie Joe’, but ‘Fancy’ really blew my mind. It’s a first person “autobiographical” tale of a woman who uses prostitution to lift herself out of abject poverty. The arrangement is exceptional and Bobbie is a storyteller on par with Dylan. Why she isn’t celebrated more widely is a telling indicator of how women songwriters have been historically undervalued.

Aldous Harding – ‘Horizon’ (2017)

Amanda: Aldous Harding is consistently brilliant but there’s something about the lyrics of ‘Horizon’ that touched a chord with me, in particular the chorus line, “Here is your princess / And here is the horizon”. The beauty of music is every listener has their own interpretation, and I read something akin to the feminist re-appropriating of fairy tales by writers like Angela Carter and Leonora Carrington into this lyric. Then again it could just be a song about ending a relationship. Either way, it’s stunning.

Sunny War – ‘If It Wasn’t Broken’ (2018)

Amanda: Another recent discovery, Sunny War is a self-described folk punk artist from Los Angeles. This is a simple acoustic guitar ballad but it’s instantly catchy and Sunny’s voice is truly beautiful. It features a violin solo that suits the reflective nature of this song perfectly. “How would you know you had a heart if it wasn’t broken?”

Sudan Archives – ‘Come Meh Way’ (2017)

Amanda: My introduction to this song was through working on the score for the film Babyteeth. The main character, Milla, was a violin player. I’m a violin player and the self-taught Brittney Denise Parks from Sudan Archives is a violin player. She brings such startling originality to this song with her bursts of fiddle and innovative production. It’s West African influenced, it’s loopy and contemporary and it’s impossibly cool.

Loretta Lynn – ‘Fist City’ (1968)

Amanda: Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton are true inspirations to countless female songwriters. They proved women could write songs about issues particular to women and be hugely popular. Loretta wrote about birth control, pregnancy and, in this instance, a feisty threat to beat up an unfaithful husband. She also has the distinction of having eight of her songs banned, including this one. Eilen Jewell and her band do a great version of ‘Fist City’.

Amanda Brown’s Eight Guitars is out now. Details of a launch event are to come.

Further Reading

Jen Cloher Announces Tour, Shares Music Video ft. Georgia Maq, Mo’Ju, Kira Puru

Robert Forster Mythologises His Past on New Album ‘The Candle and the Flame’

Hannah McKittrick: The Sounds, Words, Objects and Places That Inspired ‘The day has again bruised me’

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