As we have shown with previous editions of our Commonwealth Connections series, the folk-roots music scene not only thrives in North America, but has quite a vibrant scene in Australasia too. We have taken great pleasure in featuring Australian artists that we were fortunate to catch live in concert during our travels, notably Liz Stringer (twice in ON) and the Mae Trio (both in QC and here in PA). Our recent discovery of some amazing talent from New Zealand too, notably Delaney Davidson, Mel Parsons, and Barry Saunders, provided more great music for our listening pleasures, and left us craving much more. So it seems perfectly timed that a pair of good GDW friends pulled some strings and brought another talented singer-songwriter from the Southern Hemisphere to our attention.
Born and raised on a parrot farm in Ramornie, northern NSW, Tullara has been storming across the Australian music scene with her unique brand of folk-roots rock. Following the release of “Better Hold On,” her impressive 2016 debut EP, Tullara earned ‘Best EP’ honors at the 2017 Australian Roots Music Awards, and many invites to some of the prominent festivals across her homeland, including Woodford Folk, and the Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival. She has shared the stage with popular PEI trio, The East Pointers, who have long been firm favorites of ours (and good pals) here at Team GDW. “The first time I saw Tullara was at The Woodford Folk Festival many years ago when she was playing with her sister in Siskin River,” shares Tim Chaisson (The East Pointers). “I remember being stopped in my tracks by her playing; like shredding the acoustic guitar.”
With a strong desire to return to North America after time spent exploring Canada’s western provinces last year, 2020 was set to be a banner year – at least, until COVID-19 decided to rudely intervene. But while plans to visit our continent once again are now on hiatus, Tullara has fulfilled her strong desire to release “16 Seconds,” her brand new single, with promises of much more yet to come. “The recording started in Melbourne and was meant to finish as a complete album, but by the end of the process, I’d spent a LOT of money with very little results,” Tullara offers. “I got in touch with Aurora Jane, who produced my debut EP, and she said, ‘Why don’t you come over to Vancouver and we’ll finish it.’” Accompanied by her bandmates Tim Bennett (bass) and Rose Callaghan (drums), the trio made their trek across the Pacific ocean to Capsule Studios last summer, teaming up with Canadian musician Mary Anchetta (keyboards) and producer Aurora Jane to lay down these new songs.
Prior to giving the new single, “16 Seconds,” a whirl, I spent some time exploring the six tracks from her “Better Hold On” EP, looking to discover Tullara’s sound and style, and must admit that my first impressions were very favorable. Both the opening track, “Too Many,” and closing track, “Six Months,” demonstrate her sharp songwriting talents, mated to a vocal style that draws comparisons to Abigail Lapell and Frazey Ford. “Better Hold On,” the title track, also introduces Tullara’s impeccable fingerpicking guitar technique, offering similarities to the likes of Mike Trudgen and Antoine Dufour. Not bad company to be name-dropped in, right? And then there is “Jailbreak,” a foot-stomper of a track where Tullara really amps things up, pushing her own folk-roots boundaries into rock territory, complete with some great blues and funk driven beats. This is a great EP, which I highly encourage everybody to check out. Okay, I’m ready for the new single now.
Officially released in North America back on May 8th, “16 Seconds” is not only an incredibly produced and polished track, but one that showcases Tullara’s natural ability to write catchy hooks and clever lyrics, exposing a new dimension to her repertoire. Per her press release, the song offers a profound, pop-inspired message to those tiny moments between big moves; the space between stepping off the diving board and touching the water, unsure whether to hold on to your heart or to trust in letting it go. Confusion and regret colour our days, and finding clarity can seem as far distant as a lifetime … or maybe just 16 seconds away. “Like mostly every song I write, 16 Seconds started with the opening guitar riff,” she shares. “I was in the early stages of a new relationship and it was long distance, so already had its challenges and at the point where it was like ‘Are you gonna tell me you love me?’ or ‘Is it over now?’ So I found myself involuntarily on the fence.”
Not content with just releasing this track through audio channels alone, Tullara is excited to debut an accompanying music video for “16 Seconds” on YouTube tomorrow (the video will also be available on our Facebook page). “I came up with the idea for the video when I was at the airport, and went to the vending machine and noticed that a packet of chips was half-hanging out of its section; [that] I was gonna get 2 packets of chips for the price of one,” she recalls. “So when I was telling my friend about the great fortune I’d just had, I realised that here I was having a great day because of someone else’s misfortune, and they were probably having a bad day because of it.” The concept of shooting the video with a recurring split-screen tale soon followed, with one individual having good luck and a great day, while the other encounters quite the opposite. “My character is having a really terrible day,” Tullara explains. “She gets stood up, loses a $20 bill, spills coffee on herself, someone’s red sock turns her white shirt pink at the laundromat, burns her toast, and drops her ice cream.”
Friend and drummer, Rose Callaghan, has a cameo appearance as the yin to Tullara’s yang throughout the video, whose character enjoys a perfect day as she finds a $20 bill, eats some amazing food, does her laundry (accidently leaves a red sock in the washing machine), and enjoys her ice cream. Of course, in true Hollywood fashion, there is a happy ending for our less fortunate friend. “These two strangers, that have unknowingly affected each other all day, meet in the end when my character can’t pay for her drink at the bar,” Tullara adds. “Rose’s character shows a simple act of kindness and pulls out the $20 she found earlier, and pays for our drinks. This kind stranger turns my day around!”
“16 Seconds” kicks off an exciting year ahead for Tullara, who also hints of two possible upcoming EP’s from those Vancouver sessions last summer. Based on what I have heard so far over these past two weeks, Tullara is a bona-fide new talent destined to find great success across the North American folk-roots music scene. Keep you eyes and ears open – you will not be disappointed – but if the words of a mere music blogger are not convincing enough, check out some of the plaudits below from the music community too.
“We’ve played a few shows around Australia with Tullara, and love her style, arrangements and general vibe. She’s so cool, calm, and grounded. A gem and a musician’s musician!” (Tim Chaisson)
“Tullara is a great songwriter with an extraordinary ability on guitar, but it’s her endearing earnestness and seemingly effortless swagger that makes her and her music so easy to fall in love with.” (Sarah Burton)
Discover more about Tullara’s music at: http://tullara.com