In times of great stress and isolation, the right collection of music can make you feel a strong sense of comfort and calm.
And regardless of whether it was her intention or not, Nerida Cuddy's latest record, Woven, perfectly fits the visage of a comfortable companion ready to provide healing and solace to an anxiety-ridden individual.
Woven, the fifth studio album from the Canowindra-based singer-songwriter, is a calming collection of distinctive stories reflecting life, love and family in a rural town.
On opening song 'Ali Curung', Cuddy croons "it's a beautiful land we live in, it can move my heart to tears", which immediately lets the uninitiated listener into her approach to songwriting, which is punctuated by serene imagery and supported by deep, folk-heavy undertones.
'For the Trees' frolics through the ear canals like a gentle breeze flows through the song's clear subject matter, before 'Fencing Wire' honours the many folk who patiently get to work on the grazing lands across rural and remote Australia.
Further into Woven's complex patterns lie stories providing commentary on history ['Kate Kelly's Lament', reflecting the tragic end of Ned Kelly's younger sister in Forbes, 'Scots of the Riverina- A Wife's Tale' references writer Henry Lawson] and social issues ['She is a Woman', a show of solidarity for women who have experienced abuse].
There's also a delicate ode to Indigenous Australian values in 'Mother's Heart', which Cuddy wrote about an older friend with a deep connection to Country.
Cuddy recently featured on COVID-inspired Central West compilation album While the World Waits with 'Virtual Folk Club', a tune about staying upbeat through online performance.
But Woven proves 'Virtual Folk Club' isn't Cuddy's sole musical reflection of the times, as '2020 Children' explores how the COVID world, as well as recent bushfires and floods, will shape the future ['what of the children's children, what will their world be?']
Woven also offers a rich tapestry of instrumentation, with Cuddy herself assuming guitar, guitalele and percussion duties alongside subtle hints of strings, bass, harp, accordion, Irish whistle, bagpipes and rich backing vocals.
Cuddy has been writing songs for nearly 30 years and has proudly called rural Australia home for much of that time.
Woven brings to life a number of meaningful rural stories that are both expressive and timely, and Cuddy deserves to be proud of her ability to help listeners feel comforted and engaged in such trying times for everyone.
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