Album Review: Penny Hewson - It’s An Endless Desire

24 August 2012 | 3:45 pm | Carley Hall

Lyrically, It’s An Endless Desire is a treasure. Hewson has no fear tackling subjects close to home.

Penny Hewson's journey in and out of the Australian music industry over the past two decades has been an interesting one indeed. As an integral member of late-'80s Melbourne indie-folk outfit Sea Stories, she makes a welcome comeback following time in the US and curiously as the manager of sorely-missed sample-lovers The Avalanches.

Lyrically, It's An Endless Desire is a treasure. Hewson has no fear tackling subjects close to home, treating honesty and acceptance as part of the sad world of relationships in album opener This One's For You. It's really lovely to hear a well-travelled woman singing unadulterated love songs, harking back to the grace and naiveté of artists like Carole King and Carly Simon, without the sass and martyrdom pomp of those living in the contemporary adult pop realm. My Lover's Touch is a highlight, her breathy but controlled vocal skipping over sparse acoustic guitar noodling. Ironically, the more sombre lyric content is found in the more upbeat tracks like No Regrets, a sweet juxtaposition that makes the album all the more interesting.

A blessing, because elsewhere there just isn't enough variation in pace, structure or approach here to warrant a replay. Granted, it's transfixing lyric-wise but Hewson's haunting piano underlining seems far too relied upon and bereft of much interesting accompaniment. By the time mid-album track Most Of All rolls around with its achingly desperate plea, we've been treated to half an album's worth of tracks without marked differentiation. It's a shame; It's An Endless Desire has tangibly precious moments and is a satisfying return to Hewson's woman-child vocals, but her return to the fold it isn't just yet.