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. 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’ last year, and global appreciation of her subtle and powerful style has culminated in her new single ‘Foolishly In Love’ which was co-written by the legendary Bill Callahan (SMOG).
Bruce says of the track, written during Melbourne’s long lockdown and forged in depths of self-doubt and isolation:
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:
‘Foolishly In Love’ is out through Remote Control Records and available to download and stream here and through the link below:
Feature Photograph: Maximum Person