Kurt Vile, The National, Damien Rice, and more have banded together to make Songs for Australia, a covers album with all proceeds benefiting ecological and firefighting charities. The project is the brainchild of Australian folk singer Julia Stone, the sisterly half of Angus & Julia Stone. Digital versions will be available March 5th, while CDs and vinyls drop in June.
Since last July, Australia has been ravaged by some of the worst bushfires in memory. While recent rain has helped bring the blazes under control, it came too late for over one billion animals, as well as 33 people and thousands of homes. Australia’s ecosystem might never recover. With Songs for Australia, Stone hopes to raise both awareness and disaster relief.
Each of the new cover versions was originally sung by an icon of Australian music. Kurt Vile is contributing “Stranger Than Kindness” by Nick Cave, while The National perform INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart”, and Damien Rice is swinging onto Sia’s “Chandelier”.
Stone has already released her take on “Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil, and it’s peppered with somber news clips that bring the tragedy home. The accompanying music video showcases the devastation, lingering over scorched earth, plumes of smoke, and exhausted animals fleeing for their lives. Check out “Beds Are Burning” below.
In a statement, Stone sounded slightly surprised at how well the album came together.
“I couldn’t believe the responses I was getting. I received the most heartwarming replies from the biggest, busiest artists in the world. Most of these artists have toured here, have family here, friends here, have lived here or spent time here. Everyone has such great memories of this country and to see it in flames was breaking everyone’s hearts. I often got the response that people were so happy to be offered the opportunity to do something. Everyone feels helpless in times like this.”
Other covers include Joan as Police Woman’s “Hearts a Mess” by Goyte, Sam Amidon’s take on “Let Me Down Easy” by Gang of Youths, Dermot Kennedy’s “Resolution” by Matt Corby, and Martha Wainwright’s version of Nick Cave’s “The Ship Song”. Petit Biscuit, Pomme, Paul Kelly, Dan Sultan, and Dope Lemon (from brother Angus Stone) are also contributing tracks.
Proceeds from Songs for Australia will benefit the charities Seed, Firesticks, Landcare Australia, Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, Wild Ark, and the NSW Rural Fire Service. Pre-orders have already begun.
Songs for Australia Artwork: