On Beware of the Dogs, Australian singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly bridges the gap between debatable and relatable | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

On Beware of the Dogs, Australian singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly bridges the gap between debatable and relatable 

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click to enlarge Stella Donnelly

Stella Donnelly

Poone Ghana

UPDATE: Tuesday, January 14, 12:50 PM:: Stella Donnelly has canceled her U.S. tour for health reasons. Paul Cherry has replaced her as the headliner of this show.

Stella Donnelly’s truth creeps up on you. The sound of her voice over her gentle, electrified folk-rock guitar is like a chill that runs up your spine to your occipital bone, where it releases a warm, tingling sensation that disarms any fear or doubt. That is, unless you happen to be a target of one of her biting observations, which she sometimes delivers so coolly and calmly it can take a second to register the blows. Not that she’s afraid of confrontation: on her debut album, Beware of the Dogs (Secretly Canadian), the Australian singer-songwriter keenly distills the frustrations common among young folks (especially those who identify as women) who ended the past decade fed up with global political unrest, corporate corruption, everyday threats to bodily autonomy and reproductive and sexual health care, and compulsory gender performance—and disillusioned with love and other drugs. It’s an exhaustive list to match an exhausting era, but the way Donnelly sums things up (across 13 songs that total less than an hour) leaves you feeling more relieved than drained—and her hooks, though subtle, compel sing-alongs as well as any arena anthem. When she repeatedly affirms “I don’t wanna die” on the astrology-app-friendly love song “Die” or heart-wrenchingly subverts the catch-all excuse “boys will be boys” on the track of the same name, she bridges the gap between debatable and relatable.   v

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