Album Review: Fanny Lumsden "Small Town Big Shot" (2015 LP)

A glorious, warm and varied alt-country album by rural Australia’s very own Fanny Lumsden, Small Town Big Shot is a hugely impressive debut that brims with Fanny’s vivacious personality and an abundance of talent. From the get-go Fanny Lumsden and her band The Thrillseekers’ music (and on stage presence) had something special with their vibrant country spirit – from their cowboy boot toe-tapping tunes to upbeat tales that only a born and bred farm girl could tell.

Now, add in a record that easily displays the very best of Fanny’s stunning vocals, The Thrillseekers’ rich backing (complete with steel guitar and Dan Stanley Freeman on double bass), seamless production and lyrics that have you caught up in charismatic stories, and you have yourself an album that you’ll want to listen to again and again.

Fanny Lumsden and the Thrillseekers’ 2012 EP The Autumn Lawn served as an upbeat, joyful country folk work that well and truly established the act as one that wears their personality on their sleave. Three years later, Fanny Lumsden still thrives on her bountiful country charm, yet this album boasts songs that are more fine-tuned, featuring stronger vocals, more compelling lyrics and exceptional production.

The opening track “Bravest of Hearts” instantly establishes this step up to a stronger sound and wider range, with its slower, atmospheric feel working perfectly in what may be a love song dedicated to life out on the wide open plains of rural Australia. Tracks including “Bastards”, “Small Town Big Shot” and “I Choose You”, similarly show off Fanny’s flair for delivering more heartfelt tracks, all standing as warm and uplifting while managing to avoid falling into the trap of the overly sentimental country track. Indeed, some of the best moments across the album would have to be during these more stripped back tracks that easily showcase Fanny’s singing chops and stories that have you hooked for the entirety of the song.

“Soapbox” will get stuck in your head for days on end for its fuller, swinging chorus and playful lyrics while “Totem Tennis” flaunts the rollicking country hoe-down vibe that Fanny Lumsden and her band evoke so easily. Meanwhile, “Sea Elephant School” has to stand as a favourite for its soaring chorus and stunning instrumentation. It is also interesting to see the many facets of country life being explored across the album, from the rural romance of “I Choose You” to the discontent of a country wife and mother in “Rattle & Your Roll”.

All in all, Small Town Big Shot brings us the best of Australian country and folk, sweeping us up in the spectacular energy and beauty that comes with living on the land. Based on the quality of this album, Fanny Lumsden’s name will only continue to get bigger across rural and metropolitan Australia alike – and that is very much deserved.

Review Score: 9.0 out of 10

Big Town Small Shot is available now.