When we were forming Impressed, we had a simple criteria for which releases merited ending up on wax. It had to be the sort of music that you immediately told all your friends about when you heard it, but also something that made you want to send everybody home so you could crank it alone after midnight. To me, that’s what vinyl is all about. Music is everywhere, but only some if it feels essential. We all know when we’re suitably impressed by a record. It’s hard to lie about it.
We asked Georgia to sum up the feeling behind Nothing Wrong, but it’s not the kind of album she finds easy to reduce to a few sentences. For a start, it’s a hard won debut whose wrangling took a toll on its creator. It’s a record, like many others, that was conceived during the extreme lows of lockdown, but one that took the ensuing three years to craft into something she deemed worthy of outside ears.
“The volume went up too loud,” she says. “I fell, I got lost, and I feel so lucky to have had the people and resources that I had. I resolved to survive.”
I came to Georgia’s songwriting at the tail-end of this survival process and I was struck by an immediate feeling of guilt that this was the first time I had heard it. In my line of work, you hear dozens of albums and sometimes hundreds of songs a week, but it’s a rare moment when a song comes on and you frantically check its release date to find out just behind the bloody eight-ball you are.
For me that was ‘Omissions’, one of the many highlights on an excellent LP from this young artist. Beyond Georgia’s voice, which has in recent years proven itself to be in suitably high demand across the indie rock spectrum, what really interested me were the arrangements. ‘Omissions’, like many other songs here, leads you down one sonic path before darting mischievously around the corner. It’s musically accomplished without being wanky about it. Keys change, moods shift and then you’re locked back in before you can figure out precisely what’s happened. This sleight of hand is something that takes time to look so easy. It appears Georgia’s had a lot of it.
“Over the lockdown years I found myself becoming obsessed with cycles - spirals and repetitions in nature and in our tiny brains and hearts,” she says of the track’s genesis. “It's a bit of a scrapbook song, a canvas on which you pull out all the different elements of an idea and try to look at them to understand more. I've spent a long time trying to make some parts of myself disappear - as I think we all have at some point. Laying it all out makes them all equal, all beautiful”
This notion of teasing something out of oneself, of interrogating the patterns that sometimes lead us to make the same bad decisions over and over again carries across the record. But I hear it most in the two songs that help bring it to a close. My favourite of these, the album’s title track, is an absolutely gut-punching folk number, resplendent with fingerpicked banjo and a diving, swooning synth that sounds like a cello that’s weeping. It’s not the only song where Georgia turns her gaze inward (‘Paper’ is perhaps the best example of this on the record), but to me it is the one that does it to the most devastating effect. By my count, I have listened to these three and a half minutes at least fifteen times.
‘Nothing’s Wrong’ opens with the sound of torrential rain, and in her notes to us, Georgia often mentions being locked inside in the summer, watching an extended La Nina ravage every corner of her state. I remember that period clearly; it’s around the same time my daughter was born. The dread as floodwaters started taking away towns, that innate claustrophobia, especially in a city better known for being outdoors, was unnerving. It was hard to feel excited about anything. The song captures this sensation, like many others, beautifully.
Like forests growing wild after a rainy season, Australia produces incredible singer-songwriters at an unbelievable clip. Georgia Mulligan joins good company with this record, but also does it in her own way. Low on imitation but also on limitations, it’s a collection of songs that rightfully feels well-worn given their gestation.
Send your mates home for the night and turn up the volume. This one is impressive.