I’ve just spent an hour or so listening to “Angels In The City”, a new CD by Genevieve Lemon, an Australian singer-actor, having appeared in a number of Australian soap-operas, as well as films, including Jane Campion’s “The Piano”. I’m quite a fan of Genevieve’s work, having previously seen her act in a couple of plays, including her knock-out role as Shirley in the Broken Hill bar in “Priscilla – The Musical”. Also last year I saw her perform a couple of times as part of “Lemon Tart”.
What I remember most about the first time I saw “Lemon Tart” was their spectacular version of “Blue Sky Mining”, a fairly big hit for “Midnight Oil” in the 1990s. On this night, in particular, Genevieve transformed what I thought was a fairly typical Midnight Oil rock and roll protest song about corporate intransigence into a beautiful ballad. I’d never really listened to the lyrics until Genevieve brought them to life….
“The candy store paupers lie to the share holders
They’re crossing their fingers they pay the truth makers
The balance sheet is breaking up the sky
So I’m caught at the junction still waiting for medicine
The sweat of my brow keeps on feeding the engine
Hope the crumbs in my pocket can keep me for another night
And if the blue sky mining company won’t come to my rescue
If the sugar refining company won’t save me
Who’s gonna save me?”
Audio: Brief excerpt of “Blue Sky Mining”
This new CD demonstrates effectively what a great story-teller Genevieve is. Also on songs like Tom Waits’ “Tom Traubert’s Blues” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel”, she articulates both the strength and fragility of human nature. In many respects, Genevieve reminds me of the kind of thoughtful left-leaning singer-songwriters who are no longer so popular in Australia, like Judy Small, Margaret Roadknight and Norma Murphy. There are also shades of early Bette Midler in the way in which she takes well-known songs and makes them her own.
She also has a great sense of comedy. In her version, for example, of Lou Reid’s “Walk On The Wild Side”, she takes the line “But she never lost her head even when she was giving head”, and turns it into…
“But she never lost her head even when she was tucked in bed
she said, hey babe this is a kids show”