Stella Donnelly: “I would find refuge in my music, rather than have it be something I felt like I needed to turn up for”

Stella Donnelly
(Image credit: Emma Daisy)

On the outset, Stella Donnelly’s inclusion in Australian Guitar #150 might seem controversial – there’s not a lot of guitar on her long-awaited second album, Flood. It’s instead mostly steered by the sharp, glassy chords of a grand piano and the atmospheric flowerings of twinkly synth-work. We’ll admit it was quite polarising to hear for the first time: ’til now, Donnelly has always been a shredder at heart, flourishing her records with passages of noodling that masterfully showed off her fretting dexterity. 

Without guitars to navigate her course, though, Donnelly was freed to explore an expansive depth of new musicality. Over 11 kaleidoscopic cuts, Flood sees the Perthian songster truly embrace the pastel prettiness of dream-pop, the warming richness of a slow-burning piano ballad, and the mystifying gravitas of minimalist folk. And where Donnelly does utilise the guitar, she does so with enrapturing intent, with every tingly, twangy note cutting deep into the soul. If 2019’s Beware Of The Dogs was Donnelly’s introduction to the world, Flood is her notice of intent to take over it. 

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Ellie Robinson
Editor-at-Large, Australian Guitar Magazine

Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Her bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (where she also serves as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Her go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, she only picked up after she'd joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped her see the light…