A Different Hunger
Ah, love's sweet refrain, but enough wishful thinking from me.
Fiona McDonald is a lady with loads of talent, and a back catalogue full of modern classics.
A Different Hunger, her first solo album since departing The Headless Chickens and Strawpeople, is a seductive blend of acid jazz, pop and rock tunes. We get a healthy sampling of McDonald's gambit of vocal styles from the edgy, emotionally charged 'Bury Me' to the sultry, sex driven 'Strawberry Boy' with it's driving atmospheric string section, enticing and seducing the listener.
A good balance exists here between up-tempo and downbeat songs to give the feeling of freshness that never allows the album to become samey.
I love the gritty guitar on the rock oriented 'Wish I Was A Man'. Once again Fiona gives her vocals some real intensity, not in an overbearing sense, but an emotional intensity appropriate to the song adding that passionate emphasis to the chorus.
A good equilibrium exists between emotional protectiveness, and inner strength versus the vulnerable heart in songs like 'George', 'Bury Me', 'Blue Nails', the brilliant 'Damage Control' and 'Don't Tell'. Other songs paint a darker picture of lust and desire prevalent in songs like 'I Don't Care', ' Sin Again', 'Strawberry Boy' and 'Anything'. 'George', a song McDonald recorded and previously released as a Headless Chicken's single (It appears also on their most recent compact disc, Greedy) has been re-recorded here and while it has a nice scary arrangement, it lacks the intensity and urgency of the original. I think this is the best song Fiona McDonald has ever written. It has such vibrant, testy lyrics that really bite! This new version however comes across a little watered down and lacks the conviction of the original.
Produced by Robin Hancock and Fiona McDonald with Luke Tomes, A Different Hunger really cooks without being sleazy or degrading in its subject matter. It's a very honest album, not pretentious, or arrogant, which is a feeling I get from some records I've heard that deal with this kind of topic.
Fiona seems to deal with both the spiritual/emotional aspects of sexual relationships as responsibly as with the troubling physical stumbling blocks that often prevent any real depth in our relationships with people of the opposite sex. She sings of temptation and desire with equal energy and not a bit of self-consciousness.
A Different Hunger was recorded in London and Auckland studios, and is without doubt one of the most more-ish albums I've heard in a long time. I just can't put it down. I keep playing it and it keeps growing on me.
A kaleidoscope of emotions are expressed here egged on by tasteful playing using simple but effective arrangements.
Check out Greg Johnson's trancey trumpet on 'Don't Tell' and the Nirvanaesqe 'Come As You Are' guitar sound on 'Bury Me'. Fiona plays some sparse but effective piano parts on a number of songs that gave my spine a shiver particularly on 'George', one of the song's redeeming features.
This is really a great album! I can't praise it enough. So, at the risk of overstatement, I urge you to buy it and hear for yourself just how great Fiona McDonald is.