Laugh and Cry with Stella Donelly on “Beware of the Dogs”

“Are you scared of me old man?” warbles  26-year-old Australian singer-songwriter, Stella Donelly, on her electrifying new album, Beware of the Dogs. “Or are you scared of what I’ll do?” “Old Man” is the opening track of Beware of the Dogs and it perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the record. “You grabbed me with an open hand/ The world is grabbin’ back at you,” the song poses as a threat to any man, particularly those that are white and influential, that might try to violate someone else.

The issue of sexual assault and its entwinement with sexism and misogyny is threaded throughout Beware of the Dogs on tracks such as “Watching Telly” (“They take dollar signs to our bodies/ And tell us not to show our skin”), “Tricks” (“You said I’d look much better if I dropped the attitude) and “Boys Will be Boys”, a gentle track that takes issue with the culture of victim blaming in relation to sexual assault. All of these tracks find salience since the birth of the #MeToo movement.

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On the album’s title track, Donelly expands her scope of social issues. “There’s no Parliament worthy of this country’s side,” she sings, critical of how the Australia has been devastated both culturally and environmentally at the hands of its own government (in many ways, the song can be relevant to the state of America as well).

Despite the gravitas of these issues, Donelly magically weaves her humor into her lyrics. Her song-writing is witty and charming but, most importantly, unpredictability it keeps the listener grounded throughout 13 tracks. Donelly’s lyrics paired with her saccharine voice will leave you wondering whether you should laugh or cry.