The recent pandemic has undoubtably changed the lives of artists dramatically, often it has manifested as an inability to write, produce or play with others. As a result of this, Grace Cummings produced Storm Queen largely by herself. She tells us of the struggles of creating through lock down, sharing, “it was strange, you start to lack motivation. People think you’ll be creating but there is nothing happening in your life making you want to do that.” However, with perseverance, and the company of Donald Barthleme and Jorges Luis Borges, the record came to life.
Unlike her previous record, Refuge Cove, Grace ‘wasn’t going full rock n’ roll on this one’ so the subsequent space created by her artistic isolation was a blessing for the album; allowing the minimal production space for her powerful voice. The necessity of having to work largely by herself meant that she had to make an album she could do by herself. It also developed Cumming’s understanding of the album, telling us that “this album was properly curated to be an album, rather than a collection of songs." She continues, saying “in terms of writing I’m getting better at being myself, I think, and not trying to fit or mould myself into a genre that other people expect me to be. I think I’m getting much more comfortable at making my own decisions and know that the song will be good for someone.”
Of the title track, Storm Queen, Cummings tells us that it was the last track that she wrote and it then became the most significant to her, although with true artistic mystery she wouldn’t exactly reveal why. “The song is also my favourite track on the whole album. Harry Cooper on the baritone and Cahill Kelly on the piano helped me make the song I had in my head come to life. They trusted my gut, even when things were sounding a bit freaky and it was unclear if my vision for the song would come together. I wanted this track to be fucking raw, and ugly, and full of gunfire, and dirt, and ruin. And it turned out even bigger than I’d imagined.”
The record is unified thematically by “a lot of talk about landscape and nature. I think the mention of divine and natural forces comes up a lot in this record.” Cummings tells us that this thematic unification was something she noticed after the album had come together. Whilst she was writing the record she was “Listening to a hell of a lot of my morning jacket and heaps of The Rolling Stones… It was My Morning Jacket over and over again. It just keeps bringing me happiness and I want to keep listening to it til it doesn’t anymore.”
Cummings remembers discovering her voice as a child, singing along to The Beatles in her family home and it is a power that carries through into her current live performances. She will be touring the record this year and aims to give the record new meaning through her live performances, hoping for a different show every night. “Opening your mouth and feeling the sound come out, there is nothing like it. It’s an electric feeling,” one that her audience will hear alone on the record, and live on her upcoming Australian tour in Autumn.