Album Review: Gena Rose Bruce’s ‘Deep Is The Way’ is an ethereal, majestic triumph. Australian and UK tour dates also announced.

Feature Photograph: Maximum Person

The Breakdown

'Deep Is The Way' is a triumph of experience and growth, touched with an innocent wonder at the world expressed in lyrical grandeur and delicacy. Melancholic and sparse, each track is an ethereal joy, seeped in a glacial majesty and filled with urgency and pain and yet resilient and powerful.
Remote Control/Dot Dash 9.2

We here at Backseat Mafia have been long time fans of Melbourne-based chanteuse Gena Rose Bruce with her smoky, sultry voice and reverb-inflected laconic style that comes across as a melange of Mazzy Star and P.J. Harvey: a femme fatale with a steely spine cloaked in luscious velvet and a smoldering style. We first noticed her soon after the magazine began back in 2014 and have followed her upwards trajectory ever since.

Her debut album ‘Can’t Make You Love Me’ featured as one of our top releases for 2019 (see review here). The last time she appeared in our radar was her contribution to The Paper Kites’ magnificent album ‘Roses’ in 2021, and global appreciation of her subtle and powerful style has culminated in her collaboration with the legendary Bill Callahan (SMOG). Her new album ‘Deep Is The Way’, out now through Remote Control Records and Dot Dash Recordings, is a stunning collection of shimmering jewels that sparkle and haunt.

Opening track ‘Future’ sets the scene for what is an extraordinary album. Tremolo infused guitars provide a bare and naked underpinning to Bruce’s atmospheric vocals, weeping with a torch light melancholy, a hint of strings in the ether and a whispered ghostly delivery.

Second track and latest single ‘Destroy Myself’ has a Sharon Van Etten pace and passion with a mesmerising atmospheric video directed by Ryan Downey:

‘Foolishly In Love’, co-written by Callahan, was written during Melbourne’s long lockdown and forged in depths of self-doubt and isolation. Bruce says:

I was asking myself: ‘am I meant for one sort of relationship?‘ I think it’s an important question to ask, to really just have a frank conversation about those feelings.

The lyrics dream of potential and possibilities:

Cause tonight we have a free pass
To love with no conscience
To lead with our hearts
and to fall, foolishly in love

The collaboration with Callahan came about as the result of a an exchange of letters between the two artists:

Working with Bill was very poetic and brought a feeling of nostalgia. We have only ever had written correspondence, sending lyrics back and forth to each other, with sometimes weeks in between responses, just analysing lyrics, there was no small talk, just keeping it about what’s important – the music.

The result is something quite magnificent – seemingly born in some smoky red velvet lounge in the early hours of the morning after a night of melancholic debauchery and excess, yet burnished with a degree of filtered optimism. Bruce’s voice is filled with a yearning over a driving percussive rhythm that slowly increases in intensity. There is an element of an electronic motorik thrum underlying the track and a gorgeous expansive chorus.

The video, co-directed by Alex Badham and Ryan Downey and shot and edited by Alex Badham is in an evocative, pastoral and dreamily filmed outdoor setting that recalls the themes of untrammeled freedom:

 ‘Misery and Misfortune’ is a slow burning spark that oozes a languid sensuality over a solid musical base. The instrumentation provides an Arctic motorik electronic bed over which Bruce delivers her soft, expressive velvet vocals, filled with yearning and hope. This creates a fascinating tension.

Bruce says of the track:

This song is about feeling grateful and appreciative for when you can actually feel your feelings. Even if some of those feelings may not be positive, at least they turn on all your senses and remind you that you are still alive.

 The beautiful title track ‘Deep Is The Way’ has Callahan not only throwing in with songwriting, but contributing to vocals as well.

‘Deep Is The Way’ is profoundly moving and stately – delivered as a yearning ballad with Bruce’s gorgeous, melancholy vocals dipping in and around Callahan’s more gravelled and grounded contribution. There is no doubting Bruce’s connections to the sounds of Mazzy Star and PJ Harvey, all with a Lynchian twist. Added to this is a strong antipodean flavour, drenched in the languid sunshine and bright blue skies with a hint of darkness lurking deep inside.

The instrumentation is sparse and evocative – gently unfolding and undulating beneath the vocals.

Bruce comments:

I think it can sometimes be overwhelming trying to find your place or ‘your thing’ in life. This song really is a dedication for those people who may be slower in finding themselves, who like to dream, think deeply and take their time to make decisions, for them to appreciate and honour their thoughtful process. Not everyone has to keep up with this unachievably fast and competitive world.

The song is accompanied by a luscious video, directed by Alex Badham, a student of the legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog. The short film was shot during the pandemic in Europe and Australia and features empty, lonely spaces, but as it progresses, it pans out to wider landscapes offering a feeling of comfort and hope. On this feeling, Badham says:

I totally fell in love with this song, having had some clichéd romantic moments listening to it whilst wandering the rainy streets of Berlin. I wanted to incorporate some of the seedy city vibe in the video. I had lots of travel going on and Gena had the idea of utilising this opportunity to make a slow and dreamy collection of empty spaces. I was lucky enough to visit some interesting and varied places over this period, Tenerife particularly has some amazing spots in such a tiny land mass – lush forests, black beaches and volcanic moonscapes. I also went into quite a few Berlin bars, asking on the spot if I could get a shot (with my camera) and a shot (of booze) and accidentally got a little shitfaced at times, oops. I’m pleasantly surprised by how emotionally moving it turned out, given how simple it is – a fairly straightforward concept about escaping the city and exploring the world outside.

This is as majestic and thrilling as the track itself:

Bruce’s songwriting and delivery is soaked in a sensuous frame, achingly beautiful vignettes that are delicate yet powerful and filled with a profound sense of longing and regret.

‘Deep Is The Way’ is a triumph of experience and growth, touched with an innocent wonder at the world expressed in lyrical grandeur and delicacy. Melancholic and sparse, each track is an ethereal joy, seeped in a glacial majesty and filled with urgency and pain and yet resilient and powerful.

The album is out now and available to stream and download here and through the link below.

Bruce is about to embark on an Australian and UK tour.

Tickets are available here and full live dates are as follows:

1/4/23 – Meadow Festival, Bambra, Australia
8/4/23 – Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel, Beechworth, Australia
15/4/23 – Felons Barrel Hall, Brisbane, Australia
16/4/23 – Jet Black Cat In-Store, Brisbane, Australia
20/4/23 – The Vanguard, Sydney, Australia
28/4/23 – The Gaso, Melbourne, Australia
29/4/23 – The Bridge, Castlemaine, Australia

2/5/23 – The Hug & Pint, Glasgow, UK
3/5/23 – Brudenell, Leeds, UK
4/5/23 – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, UK
7/5/23 – YES Basement, Manchester, UK
9/5/23 – Louisiana, Bristol, UK
10/5/23 – Servant Jazz Quarters, London, UK

Feature Photograph: Maximum Person

Previous News: Get Ready to Groove - GTM Back With A Full Tour
Next News: keep of kalessin to release new album 'katharsis' march 24th.

No Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.