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“She won’t breathe a word past her lips / and you, you have to live with it“. Those words are beyond chilling.
There’s a blunt, harshness to it made all the more tragic knowing that it inspired by the true event of a man who killed his wife in a small country town. Sometimes songs based on such tragedy can rub off on you the wrong way, but Daniel from Leo manages to portray the story with enough compassion and levity to leave a considerable lasting impression.
Wollongong folk singer Leo tells the tragic story of domestic violence in her harrowing debut single Daniel. A sad tale that’s equal parts bold and gentle.
Bear in mind this isn’t a case of Leo, otherwise known as Lucy Mills, singing about a story she read in the paper. She actually lived in that country town and knew the family well. You can hear it in her voice; the air of familiarity with the characters in her story and the judgement that is imposed upon them. This is the debut single from 23 year old Leo, the first fruit of her indie-folk labours since moving to Wollongong. As far as debut singles go, it’s a striking one that you’re not going to forget any time soon.
Speaking to Lucy it’s clear the story she tells is one that is close to her heart. The intimacy of her memories of her time in Kandos, NSW speak in volumes. “The song is based on a husband who killed his wife. They were a family I was close to in the country town where I grew up” says Leo. “That man went to prison and is now free. It was never clear to the people who knew them if it was accidental or not. The song is like an interrogation of that man but also making sure he knows he’s accountable for what he’s done, not only to his wife but to the lives of the people who loved her“.
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The tale is a harrowing one, and thankfully Daniel does it justice. The subject matter is harsh, but it is offset by Leo’s soft yet firm voice. Her voice meditates on the track, each word ebbs its way into your consciousness with ease. There are no specifics given as to what happened, but it’s emotionally charged without making a spectacle about it. The simple instrumentation; the layered finger plucked guitar, tapping drums and oozing electric melodies, manage to convey a sadness and resentment without getting too flashy.
It comes back to that point of mature songwriting. This is by no means a cheap grab at a sad story to pull heart strings nor a wailing melancholy. It’s simply a reflection and it’s one that works on many levels. Kudos to Leo, she couldn’t have picked a better single to introduce herself to the world with. A bold choice, but one that will stay with you for a while.
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