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Penny Flanagan


Country of origin:

Australia

Type of music generally:

Contemporary folk, folk/rock, folk/pop, mainstream pop

Status:

Most recent release, "Lap It Up" (single, as Penny Flanagan and the New Moon, 2013)

See also:

Wikipedia's Penny Flanagan entry

CDBaby's Penny Flanagan page

Comparisons:

Tania Bowra, Jonatha Brooke

Covers/own material:

Mostly own material with some covers

General comments:

Penny Flanagan has been part of the Australian music scene for a long time. She started out in the late '80s as half of the folk/pop duo Club Hoy, then after Club Hoy disbanded, struck out on her own. Penny doesn't have a very high public profile (she doesn't tour that much) but has worked with some of the best, including members of The Church and Crowded House. She's a gifted songwriter with a knack for taking melodies in unexpected directions, and a talent for writing about flawed relationships and the flawed people in them. Musically, Flanagan writes the kinds of songs that can shine in different settings—stripped back to their acoustic bones, or in more complex arrangements. A very talented artist who is one of my favourites. (Sherlyn.Koo)

Her songs are like nouvelle cooking—unexpected ingredients that blend well together in surprising ways. Her music is best classified as pop-folk, but with a certain edginess, and occasional jazziness. Flanagan's lyrics are clearly sung: You can feel that she puts her entire self into her music. The songs on both Light Sleeper and Bravado are diverse, so you won't tire of the cds easily. (billonline@adlerbooks.com)

Comments about live performance:

Penny's an excellent live performer. Over the past few years I've seen her play solo, with her acoustic band (percussionist and piano), and with a full backing band. Of those, I'm probably more of a fan of the acoustic setting (either solo or with minimal backing), but that's due more to me and my folk leanings than an indication that anything is lacking with the full band. In any event, every time I've seen Penny in concert it has been a fine gig. If you get the chance to see her, go! (Sherlyn.Koo)

For me one such moment came on the day I went to see our local indie artist, Penny Flanagan. This was the same day U2 rolled into town with their "Zooropa" tour (I'm not a big U2 fan so I might be making the title up but anyhow it was a whole special effects extravaganza). So here was Penny—she brought a bunch of TV sets with her, laughably pathetic old beat-up things of varying shapes and sizes, and stacked them up on the side of the stage, saying in a very deadpan way something like "thanks for coming to my show instead of U2, I'll try to provide you with a similar experience..." Maybe you just had to be there, but this was one of those moments I still remember and treasure, long after I forgot any U2 songs I might've heard at the time. I clearly remember thinking, "I much prefer to be here—no contest!". (afries@zip.com.au)

Recommended first album:

Seven Flights Up

Recordings:


Bravado

(as Penny Flanagan and the New Moon)

Release info:

1994—Regular Records—D31207

Availability:

Available in Australia

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Penny Flanagan—acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals
Steve Bull—bass, electric guitar, vocals
Mark Dawson—drums

Guest artists:

Martin Armiger—percussion, piano, electric guitar, keyboards
Mary Azzopardi—vocals
Lee Borkman—keyboards
Mark Caen—electric guitar
Wayne Connolly—electric guitar
Sunil De Silva—percussion
Jason Gubbay—piano, keyboards
Paul Hester (Crowded House)—drums
Mark Kennedy—drums
Kirk Lorange—acoustic guitar, slide guitar
Jason Morphett—saxophone
Allanah Russack—vocals
Dominic Turner—dobro, slide guitar

Produced by:

Martin Armiger

Comments:

Many of the songs on Bravado remain in Penny Flanagan's live repertoire today. I do prefer the later two albums but this is still a very good album in the contemporary folk singer-songwriter vein. Some of the best songs here include "Lap It Up" (which received some airplay on Australia's youth/alternative radio network JJJ), "Piece of You" and "Dig". (Sherlyn.Koo)

Seven Flights Up

Release info:

1996—Stunt/Penny Dreadful Records—Stunt 023

Availability:

Available in Australia

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Penny Flanagan—guitars, vocals
Peter Neville—percussion
Mark O'Connor—piano, vocals

Produced by:

Martin Armiger

Comments:

An EP which "happened by accident" and which was recorded "for posterity", Seven Flights Up also happens to be an acoustic masterpiece. Flanagan explains in the liner notes that, after hastily throwing together an acoustic trio for a gig as a replacement for her regular band, none of whom were available, "it became clear...that it wasn't the 'next best thing to a pop band' but something entirely different altogether. Maybe something even better".
     Recorded live in the studio with the trio "all playing and singing at the same time", each member of the group brings their own special ingredients to the mix. Peter Neville brings rhythm. Mark O'Connor brings some of the most intelligent piano accompaniment that I've ever heard. And Flanagan brings her voice, her guitar and some of her best songs yet. Together it all adds up to a mix that is warm, groovy, compelling and, of course, acoustic. Included here is a version of Flanagan's previous hit "Lap It Up", a cover of Prince's "When You Were Mine" and my personal all-time-favourite Penny Flanagan song, "Inseparable". Highly recommended. (Sherlyn.Koo)

Light Sleeper

Release info:

1998—Penny Dreadful Records—PD002

Availability:

Available in Australia

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Penny Flanagan—acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals

Guest artists:

Chris Campbell—acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano
Bob Corbett—electric guitar
Paul Elliott—guitar, bass
Steve Kilbey (The Church)—vocals
Mark O'Connor—piano
Tim Powles—drums, bass, keyboards, percussion, piano
David Skeet—electric guitar

Produced by:

Tim (Spaceman) Powles

Comments:

A marked departure from the previous acoustic EP, Light Sleeper is another excellent album, but in a very different style. The songs here are far darker in tone (both sonically and lyrically), and most also (as the title would indicate) take place at night—sleeplessness is a theme woven through many of the songs in this album. Another recurring theme is attraction to dark and mysterious (and possibly destructive) relationships, a topic addressed in several songs on the album. The smooth pop production (Flanagan's first real foray into the world of non-acoustic-driven sound) also fits right in. There are many excellent songs on this album, including the opening track "Picasso With the Girl", "Kite", "The Calling" and a very different version of "Inseparable", a song recorded very effectively on the acoustic EP. A fine album which should appeal to many ectophiles. (Sherlyn.Koo)

Flanagan's lyrics and music play off each other, giving some of her songs a bit of suspense that makes the listener curious about what's coming next in the song. This is especially true about the first song on Light Sleeper, "Picasso With the Girl." (billonline@adlerbooks.com)


Further info:

Email penflan @ virginbroadband . com.au

Penny Flanagan is also a novelist.


Thanks to Sherlyn Koo for work on this entry.


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