Grace Cummings’ third album is out, and it’s ready to break your heart, put it back together, and shatter it again.  - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Ramona is a magnificent display of Australian singer and songwriter Grace Cummings’ powerful range. Unlike her previous two albums, which were self-produced, Cummings collaborated with Jonathan Wilson (who, among other notable releases, produced the last two albums by Father John Misty) to create this record. With lavishly orchestrated songs and rich, soulful vocals, Cummings reflects on grief, self-destruction, and emotional violence throughout the eleven songs that make up Ramona. The album takes your breath away from the very first track, “Something Going ‘Round,” and the very first line that Cummings sings: “Time rolls by, again / Today, by and by / The old, it waves / And I don’t know why / I come back each time, just a little more grey.”

The song gradually builds in intensity to reveal Cummings’ vocal prowess as she belt the lines, “I think it was Autumn” as the orchestra swells. The next few songs fluctuate in intensity but remain steadfast in emotion: “Work Today (and Tomorrow)” is perhaps the most devastating on the album, where Cummings’ rich voice pairs with the strings will make you ache in all the right places. Truly. Her raw voice is full of hurt and vulnerability, creating something beautiful. Later, “Everybody’s Somebody” approaches emotion with a different, more theatrical, flair.

“Common Man” shifts the album’s tone a bit, with a galloping beat accompanying Cummings’ lyrics about wanting to be a cowboy: “A person I once knew wrote a song about wanting to be a common man: work 9 to 5, come home and have a cup of tea, and be so tired he wouldn’t worry about anything and go right to sleep,” reveals Cummings about the song in a press release. “That sounds like my worst nightmare, so I wrote about wanting to be a cowboy instead, which to me represents complete freedom and detachment from this mundane world.”

Grace Cummings - A Precious Thing

On “A Precious Thing,” you can hear Cummings’ voice shatter with emotion. “In the past, I’ve been caught up in worrying about whether I’m being too emotional or over-the-top, but this time around I decided not to filter any of that out,” says Cummings in a statement. “My only intention was to be myself, which meant being extremely vulnerable in my writing and my vocal performance, without going back and editing myself later on. It reaffirmed for me that being completely yourself is really the only way to offer the world something that it doesn’t already have.”

The album closes with “Help Is On Its Way,” a song that holds the most meaning and catharsis for Cummings out of all the songs on the album. Although full of pain, there is something hopeful about the song, and it wraps the album (and the listener!) in a warm hug. Listen to Ramona below, and pick up a copy on vinyl or CD here, via ATO Records.

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