Stella Donnelly is a proud, self-proclaimed shit-stirrer. Her electrifying debut album, Beware of the Dogs, is out today via Secretly Canadian, and her North American tour will kick off a week later.
When something needs to be said, whether it’s to an abusive man, a terrible boss, or a clueless significant other, the 26-year old Fremantle, Western Australian-based musician is fearless in telling it like it is. Delivered entirely with a sarcastic wink and a full heart, Beware of the Dogs proves across 13 life-affirming songs the power in sticking up for yourself, your friends, and what’s right.
Donnelly boldly introduced herself to US audiences in late 2017 with the release of the song “Boys Will Be Boys,” which she wrote in 2016 about victim-blaming of survivors of sexual assault. She followed it up with a re-release of her debut “Thrush Metal” EP via Secretly Canadian, and a stunning run at last year’s SXSW. The six-song effort featuring just Donnelly’s voice and guitar was a perfect first taste of her ever-present humor and gutsy songwriting. She immediately garnered attention from the likes of NPR Music, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Pitchfork, and beyond, all of which have already covered Stella multiple times.
Since 2017, Donnelly has spent much of her time on tour. She returned home during one of Western Australia’s chilly winters in June 2018 to finally record her debut full-length. To flesh out the album, she recruited a full band of her best friends — bassist Jennifer Aslett, drummer Talya Valenti, and guitarist George Foster – and worked alongside producer Dean Tuza who helped the songs branch out in adventurous ways without losing any of the intimacy and warmth of her EP. Jangly guitars zip and careen over the kinetic single “Tricks,” where she takes aim at racist Australian pride and the absurdity of the music industry: “You only like me when I do my tricks for you.” Elsewhere, “Allergies” recalls the stripped down ethos of her EP with a performance so emotional and honest it feels like she’s in the room with you. Whether it’s her career, her country, her family, or her relationships, Donnelly’s knack for nuance shines on Beware of the Dogs.
Beware of the Dogs is a portrait of Donnelly taking charge. It showcases an artist totally in command of her voice, able to wield her inviting charm and razor-sharp wit into authentically raw songs. She says, “this album made me feel like I was back in the driver’s seat. It was really liberating and grounding to realize that no one can fuckk with this except me.”