Fanny Lumsden, This Too Shall Pass

Aug 3, 2020

Mandy Lamont

Mandy Lamont

Award winning country artist Fanny Lumsden’s 3rd full length album Fallow was written and recorded in a stone hut at their home in Tooma and launched a few hundred metres down the road at the Tooma rec reserve. The launch was a fund raiser for the Tooma/Maragle bushfire recovery, squeezed in on March 14, just before the lockdowns when Covid shut everything down.  “It was our last hoorah, our end of the world party.” Fanny tells me on the sunny porch of the Stone Hut where the album was recorded.

You can’t tell now, but pretty much the entire valley surrounding Fanny’s house in every direction was burnt, but for some incredible reason the tiny little pocket including her house didn’t.  Evacuating north through Tumbarumba just before the road closed, 20 minutes later that same road was annihilated by the firestorm that tore through the Kosciuszko National Park from Dunns Road.  “It was terrifying!!”  Fanny tells me.  Over the following 2 weeks there were several fire threats culminating in the unthinkable when three massive fire fronts merged into one “mega fire” creating international headlines, that was Tooma over the summer!  At one point all emergency personnel were evacuated from the valley.  Cut off at Tumba and Tallangatta, there was no support and those of the 100 or so locals that stayed to defend, including Fanny and her family , took turns on the truck delivering food and doing whatever they could, including fighting the fire.

Between Corryong and Tumbarumba, the regionality of Tooma is tucked away alongside Mt Kosciuszko on the western side of the Main Range, right near the Victorian border. “It’s a bit of a secret which we do like, you have to be coming here to stumble across it, which is why the launch was so important.  We had people driving 12 hours to come to the launch, people just really wanted to come here.  It was the first time that I had said I was from Tooma, before that I was a bit general about this area but this time I was like, nup, we need to put it on the map, it’s been through a lot and needs support.”

Fanny was then faced with the dilemma, “how do I include this significant event in the stories that I’m telling about the mountains.  This album is all about the mountains, it feels remiss of us not to acknowledge this significant event that just happened to this area, but I was very wary of not exploiting people’s trauma and looking like I was sensationalising it.” The result was the film clip for Mountain Song, below.

Written before the fires and before Covid, the album really does have a similar tone.  “I wrote it after we lost Dan’s mum to pancreatic cancer.  They were very close and we were there when she passed away, it was a really traumatic experience.  I was pregnant, and had a baby a couple of months later.  Before Fallow I had been writing songs that were more observational, about funny things, Australiana, but for this record I just wanted to write about my feelings, and it’s had an amazing reception.”  Debuting at No. 10 on the all genres ARIA chart and receiving rave reviews across the board. “The single that came out in February called This Too Shall Pass, straight after the fires and right before covid.  The whole theme is about finding the joy in your little everyday moment amongst the shit, so it was fairly applicable, it’s been a wild ride.”

Growing up on a dry, flat farm in western NSW, Fanny’s dad was mountain born and bred and the mountains were always a part of the story of her family’s life.  Childhood holidays were spent camping in the mountains with the horses.  A bush poet and story teller, Fanny’s dad instilled the importance of the bush culture and heritage in his children.

A career in music was never something Fanny thought was possible or ever pursued.  Although she grew up in a musical family, when she finished boarding school in Albury she was over classical training and undertook a Rural Science degree in Armadale.  Needing a creative outlet she started writing songs and playing gigs and loved it.  Moving to Sydney, she decided to play some open mike nights, “I just dribbled out one gig at a time to a point where I was, ‘oh I have a band and we’re touring,’ and it’s just evolved organically from there.”

Sydney was where she met Dan who became her bass player, and husband.  They lived in Sydney for 6 years, before buying Milly (caravan) and travelling around Australia playing gigs, and they haven’t stopped touring since, until now.  Based in the regional town of Tooma, “it’s such a beautiful spot to come back to between touring, when we’re touring.  Dan is also a graphic designer so he is able to work wherever he goes and because we tour a lot he gets his city fix when we’re in the city.” 

Their Country Halls Tour which started in 2012 as a one off weekend of three halls in the Riverina, has grown to over 130 halls all over Australia.  An application based tour where the halls apply to host, has applications open now for next year. Country Halls tour application “We take a full band, full production, full big rig set up to halls all around Australia, and put on big shows.  It’s a huge amount of work because we own and run and promote the whole thing, but so much fun.

As well as creating their own music, Fanny and Dan are also busy with their own record label and production company Red Dirt Road Records. Creating content and video clips for themselves and others, campaign management, album launches and mentoring musicians on the business side of things.

This year has been a massive blow for Fanny.  After spending two years working obsessively on every aspect of the album and having to cancel the whole campaign, along with their biggest theatre based tour booked to date, festivals in New Zealand and WA, the Country Halls and a tour to Scotland, Ireland and the UK.  Something they are looking forward to in the not too distant future is a live show at the Wagga Civic Theatre on August 28.  A live show with a full band, full production and limited physical seating, will also be streamed, so you can purchased tickets on line.  The tour has been postponed to November.

During lockdown Fanny has performed on several online concerts for Isolaid and Anaconda campfire session.  “There has been a big appetite for music and I think that will translate when we can do shows again. People won’t take it for granted that we can go out and have good times and I think those really unique human interaction events will have more weight and hopefully we can ride that wave out of this time.”

“There has definitely been upside and more people have been on line. I think there’s a bit of zoom fatigue going on at the moment so it’s just working out how to balance all of that.  We’ve toured and worked flat out for 5 years. I was pretty close to burn out when the record came out so in the one hand it’s actually been really good timing for me.  Walter has been on the road with us since he was 3 weeks old.  It was really very flat out for us and then we were meant to go into this record campaign and touring. Maybe it was a blessing to just stop and sit here, take a breath and choose what’s important.  We are normally on the road 90% of the time, so it’s nice to be home.”

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