Allison Forbes – Angry In Suburbia

“People do stupid things when they’re bored.”

The latest single from alt-country rebel-rouser, Allison Forbes, channels her rock n roll roots in this gritty, relentless delivery that echoes the feelings of many through the pandemic. Stuck inside, stuck in boredom, and maybe searching for entertainment in the wrong places to stay occupied. From the critically acclaimed album ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ produced by Matt Fell, ‘Angry in Suburbia’ features Forbes’s whisky-soaked, gravelly vocals, and showcases a rock anthem that will have the volume up and the windows down.

Three years ago Tamworth-bred country artist Allison Forbes had the world at her feet. Her debut album ‘Bonedigger’ – produced by Oz country legend Shane Nicholson – had come out in early-2020 to near universal acclaim, debuting at #1 on the ARIA Australian Country charts.

It was the second highest-selling independent record across all genres in that heady first week, with Forbes’ distinctive take on outlaw Americana near omnipresent on country radio, topping numerous radio charts in the process.

It’s hard to imagine things going better for the mould-breaking singer-songwriter – Forbes and ‘Bonedigger’ would go on to score four prestigious Golden Guitar nominations at the 2021 Tamworth Country Music Festival, and be voted Most Popular Female Artist at the 2020 Independent Country Music Awards – but then… the COVID pandemic struck.

Instead of Forbes being able to hit the road and consolidate the hard-fought traction she’d achieved with ‘Bonedigger’ – connecting with her existing audience and winning over new fans with her captivating live show – the country plunged into lockdown and the hard-fought momentum began slowly ebbing away.

Such immeasurably poor timing would have justifiably broken many artists, but instead Forbes doubled down and poured her heart and soul into what would become her brilliant second album, ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’. It’s a collection which hones and magnifies Forbes’ indubitable talent to create an album conceived in and forged by adversity, yet which transcends its tough-times genesis courtesy the stunning empathy and compassion which floods through these beautifully rendered tales of loss and grief.

“It was really an album that I didn’t know that I needed to make until I wrote the songs, and even now looking back on it I didn’t realise how relevant it was going to be,” Forbes admits. “Everyone was experiencing a lot of loss, including myself. I lost one of my best friends fairly early during the pandemic – I’ve also dedicated the album to him – and I think that loss tied in with a lot of other confusion, and a bit of angst as well. There’s a muse that’s a common thread through the songs.

“They’re definitely the most personal songs I’ve ever written. I usually tend to be quite metaphorical when I write, which is not something that I’ve ever done on purpose – maybe it’s been a fear of revealing too much – but the songs here are very, very close to the bone.”

Importantly though – despite the serious themes threading through the narratives – ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ is far from a grim listen, with a healthy dose of hope and positivity never far from the surface.

“I always do have a glimmer of hope in my songs, I’m a really optimistic person at heart,” the singer smiles. “I wouldn’t want it to be completely sombre and depressing. I always want there to be a little bit of something – a little bit of hope that life will continue or that things will get better. I always aim to have positivity shining through even the bleakest moments.”

Having already spawned three strong singles in ‘Pieces Of Silver’, ‘Only Got One Road’ and ‘Save You Now’, this time around on ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ Forbes’ songwriting acumen was abetted by the skills of ARIA Award-winning producer Matt Fell (Troy Cassar-Daley, Shane Nicholson, John Williamson), who – working remotely from his Leichhardt studio – helped bring her fledgling ideas to stunning fruition, both in terms of song arrangements and the crack band he pulled together for the occasion.

And while the music on ‘Dead Men Tell No’ Tales is undeniably of the country persuasion, the intoxicating blend of traditional country, alt-country, folk, rock and bluegrass – unified by Forbes’ commanding vocals – defies easy classification, not that it’s of any concern to Forbes herself.

Despite the troubled times which ushered ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ into the world – and the many opportunities sadly missed due to circumstances far beyond her control – for Allison Forbes nothing is more important than simply being true to herself.

“It’s a double-edged sword to try to be yourself and be authentic – being authentic and really honest means more to me than anything – but it’s difficult because I guess I’m not really a game-player: I don’t follow the same path as a lot of the successful artists. I’m coming to terms with the fact that mainstream success may be something I’ll never have, but I’ll always be me, and I’m okay with that.”

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