Despite not knowing anyone in the band, there is something very familiar. Abby loves to tell a story. In between a number of the songs she regaled her willing audience with tales of travel, romance and loneliness. She told us of her experience at a Michael Gudinski songwriting workshop that produced the eerie and whimsical You Will Find Your Way. Despite having previously written an iconic Australian hit in Even When I’m Sleeping with Leonardo’s Bride, Abby soundly admitted to almost having a panic attack at the thought of having to write a hit song on the spot, yet was comforted to know that even the most ardent of Australia’s songwriting talent were very much in the same boat. Those who were fans of The Secret Life of Us would already be familiar with Abby’s work, having worked closely with the show by writing a number of beautiful songs for the shows highly renowned soundtrack.
One of these, I’m Not Missing You was delightfully catchy, and was played with absolute earnestness. You could definitely get a sense of the cathartic nature that would have accompanied the writing of this anti-romantic gem. Don’t Ask For More, another Secret Life of Us track, was equally as compelling. You get a real understanding that as a songwriter, Abby is very much aligned with her emotions, and can evoke even the most complex of these with a single strum of the guitar. High Like Heaven was one of those songs that eventuated as something as which she did not intend to sound like. After cutting herself of from the rest of the world to help her concentrate on her music, Abby set out to write a lonely and depressing song which very much mirrored her feelings at the time. However, before to long, the song had seemingly taken on a life of its own and surfaced as something far from lonely and depressing. ‘Such is the nature of songwriting’ she quipped.
Single Horses, is nothing short of brilliant. It’s with this track that comparisons with other great Australian female songwriters like Sarah Blasko become evident. More specifically, you begin to understand where someone like Sarah Blasko has originated. Much to the audiences joy, Abby found time to bring out the aforementioned Leonardo’s bride hit, Even When I’m Sleeping. This slightly scaled back version, although missing in numbers, was no less powerful.
Closing with the beautifully delicate Shining Star, Abby capped off an exquisitely divine night of Australian music with the same unabashed honesty that has helped her through her career. There is something inherently child-like about Abby, despite now regarding herself as ‘adult-contemporary’.
She is a breed of singer that is firmly attached to a uniquely Australian sentiment. Speaking in absolute terms, she is a gem. She is a constant in an industry full instability and short-lived terms. She should be fully embraced by anyone who enjoys genuine Australian music
Mannix plays a pleasant variety of tunes, dipping her toes into folk, country, and pop genres. Essentially, she’s everything an acoustic support slot requires: a great deal of strength, confidence, and vocal charisma to carry one to the headline act. Mannix has an excellent, powerful voice, and she’s not afraid to use it – her words, rich with emotion, crisp and resonate, travel to each corner to the room effortlessly. I was soon very much interested in how her songs would work with a band. That said, she certainly holds her own: as an acoustic support, it can be difficult to avoid monotony, and entertain a crowd from beginning to end. Mannix, however, passed with flying colors, with songs from her EP, The Mirror, and the jaunty Power Of A Girl to close out the set. As Mannix left the stage, the noticably-timid Toff audience seemed especially appreciative of a pleasantly surprising beginning to the evening.
There’s a good chance you’d know Abby Dobson, even if the name Leonardo’s Bride doesn’t ring a bell. Its the voice. Its so instantly recognizable, and practically undeniable, that half way through her first song, we – the audience – knew full well of the brilliant evening that lay ahead. Dobson was joined on stage by a cellist, guitarist and keyboardist, continuing the percussion-less trend of the evening. I’m Not Missing You (featured on the popular television program The Secret Life Of Us) was particularly mesmerizing, as Dobson and co. professed in raw emotion, showcasing lush, powerful arrangements. Stories concerning her writing process were told between songs, providing valuable and interesting insights into one of Australia’s most respected and successful female singer-songwriters.
Dobson simply could not stop smiling. She literally beamed throughout the set, and it was clear she still savors the thrill and the sheer joy of performing. The band combined expertly in harmony for the solemn, yet hopeful See What The Morning Brings, before launching into new single Horses. And then, finally, it was time for that voice to sing that song. Even When I’m Sleeping was, quite simply, shivers-down-the-spine stuff. An encore ensued, and the title track from her solo record Rise Up provided a delicate finale to what had been a thoroughly entertaining set.
Its inescapable: Dobson’s career with Leonardo’s Bride will almost always be defined by the brilliance of one song. But its evenings like these that she proves that she is bigger than one song, and then some. In short, everyone needs to turn their heads and tune their ears accordingly, because Abby Dobson is back – and she’s doing great things.
Courier Mail, QLD
“Abby Dobson’s voice is a rich, warm bear hug of a thing long missing from Australian radio”
Sunday Mail, SA
“RISE UP instantly reminds its listener of the delicate and deeply emotive quality of Dobson’s voice from the first to the last”
Daily Telegraph 4.5 stars
“”There’s no mistaking the distinctive voice of former Leonardo’s Bride front woman Abby Dobson”
“Dobson hasn’t lost her knack for a great pop hook”
“Dobson shows growth and an emotional range with lyrics that feel like she’s whispering in your ear”
“Abby Dobson offers a solo album that spotlights her ear for a well-crafted pop tune”
“That marvellous, dreamy and very distinctive voice is back... “
“Dobson has risen up from where she’s been hiding and proved she can soar high as a solo artist”
Music Australian Guide
“Abby’s voice is breathtaking ... as good as any in this country”
“To finally hear Ms Dobson’s distinctive tones across a whole album is both a relief and delight”
“As one might expect, everything here sounds gorgeous”
LIVE REVIEW - AUSTRALIAN STAGE
The Arts Centre and Spiegeltent International present
Abby Dobson 27th November 2008
She wears a gold sequined dress and a halo of blonde hair. She is dreamy, feisty, and knows a thing or two. Quite simply, Abby Dobson glows.
It’s over a decade since Dobson fronted the Australian band Leonardo’s Bride with the memorable single Even When I’m Sleeping. Last year Dobson released her debut solo album Rise Up. Supported by her band, her recent show at the Spiegeltent gives an all-too-short taste of this album as well as re-visiting a few of the songs from her past.
Supporting Dobson and her own guitar are three unassuming fellows; one on cello, one on bass and one on keyboard. Their anticipation of each other is great and rightfully, each is given ample opportunity to display their individual brilliance.
The majority of Dobson’s songs are full of whimsy and in these the lyrics are not particularly profound; their rhyming sentences give them a rather innocent, if not childlike quality. But they are delightful and the song High Like Heaven, with its talk of jumping over four leaf clovers, and the dreamy Cloud Watching, are fine examples.
Most exhilarating is the way Dobson’s vocals so often teeter on an undefinable edge. As she pushes her notes and words they take the audience to a distant and otherwise undiscovered realm before returning them, warmly, to reality. Because of this, songs like Shining Star and Whisper Nothing move without definition from lullaby to darkness and back again.
This is Dobson’s stage, Dobson’s show. You can sit and listen or you can accept the dare; let her take hold and take you away. For the audience, the end of each song is a chance to finally exhale, and do so, for in a show as compelling as Dobson’s the moments where breathing comes easily are few and far between.
October 9th 2008
Tourism Australia Walkabout Transformed by Australian Music
SYDNEY, October 09, 2008 | SHOOT Publicity Wire | --- Tourism Australia today launched "Transformation", a new advertising campaign being rolled out in 22 countries around the world. Baz Luhrmann, known for his movies Moulin Rouge and William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, was responsible for the television and cinema commercials set in New York, Shanghai and Western Australia.
Original music for the New York commercial, Billabong, was composed by Sydney composer and song writer Elliott Wheeler, from sound and music boutique Nylon Studios.
The music for the New York spot was composed and recorded within a 48 hour timeframe in early September. Film directors Baz Luhrmann and Bruce Hunt called Nylon Studios on a Friday night a month before the launch, asking for a demo to be completed by the following Monday. Elliott composed two pieces on the Saturday before recording them with a string ensemble from Sydney Symphony Orchestra on the Sunday morning.
Once the creative team had chosen one of the tracks further work included the addition of multiple layers of piano tracks to create a a signature sound for the main piano melody, and careful sound engineering and mix by Wayne Connolly. Encouraged by warm response to the soundtrack, Wheeler has written an extended version with lyrics recorded by ABBY DOBSON from Sydney band Leonardo's Bride.
Elliott Wheeler talks about the challenges of writing poetic music that represents the move from fragility, coldness and isolation to warmth, romance and self discovery.
"We wanted to use strings, but not on such a scale that we'd be dictating to the audience what they were meant to feel, so in the end we went with a much smaller chamber ensemble. We put a lot of energy into finding a balance between the intimacy expressed in the dialogue, and the grandness seen in the cinematography."
Nylon executive music producer Mark Beckhaus said, "The Tourism Australia project was a brilliant opportunity to showcase high quality Australian music and sound design in a wide range of countries around the world."
While there are certainly quite a few more female voices being heard now than when Leonardo's Bride had their three-and-a-bit golden minutes built around Even When I'm Sleeping, to finally hear Ms Dobson's distinctive tones across a whole album is both a relief and delight.
It's not just that intriguing mix of longing breathiness and almost childlike delight she can conjure that sets Abby apart from the Missy-inspired confessional masses of girls with guitars. Her sweetly-tinged pop is all about the delight of attraction, and hope, and
just looking up Cloud Watching as you hold their hand, unlike the many these days who seem intent on almost clinical post-mortems of relationships gone wrong.
That said, it's not all fairy floss and hearts and flowers. The typical slow-motion. decline of the Bride, and a bout of debilitating illness perhaps just make Abby appreciate the good and positive more than some of we cynical old curmudgeons. It's Only Love, certainly, but many don't even get that. It's worth singing about. The history adds some realism: See What The Morning Brings is an honesty few can bring themselves to. Some well chosen others add some further colour and flourishes to her quietly crafted pop, among them Sarah Blasko's musical collaborator Robert Cranny, who knows how to add layers but not submerge the individual voice at the core of a song.
It's a welcome return. Her voice, her songs, and her spirit soar in places. And that's enough for me.
March 25, 2008
Noosa News - Songstress Soothes Soul
When Leonardo's Bride was still kicking around, the thing that made it so special was Abby Dobson's voice. Listening to her sing is like having all your troubles taken away as she gently soothes you with her vocal chords. Now as a solo artist she is achieving the same results but this time with her music.
Her debut album as a soloist is full of tracks all written by Abby herself, and they are all gorgeous. There isn't a single note on this album that doesn't hit the mark. If you were a Leonardo's Bride fan, See What The Morning Brings is the track that will make you fall in love with Abby as a soloist. It echoes the feeling and sound of their successful single Even When You're Sleeping.
If you like listening to beautiful music by a talented artist with an incredible voice, definitely add this to your collection.
9/10 - Nathanael Cooper
Rolling Stone - SPRING ALBUM SPECIAL
ALMOST A DECADE AFTER "Even When I'm Sleeping" cemented Abby Dobson's place in the Oz pop pantheon, the Sydney singer and songwriter has completed her solo debut. "This record has taken an age really," she says. "It's been brewing inside me since I left Leonardo's Bride." In the inter- vening years there were recording sessions in L.A. and Paris, and "a very long period of dark nights of the soul," for Dobson. "I had some challenging health conditions I needed to learn how to heal, and existential dilemmas that rode pillion to that," she explains. The album's title track goes some way to describing her journey, one that's finally lead to a luminously beautiful album that shifts from ambient balladry on "Whisper Nothing", to the urban pop in- fluence of Lauryn Hill and Nelly Furtado on "It's Only Love".
October 11, 2007
The Daily Telegraph
4 1/2 Stars
There's no mistaking the distinctive voice of former Leonardo's Bride frontwoman Abby Dobson, who, right from the beautifully arranged You Will Find Your Way, sounds completely at home. Ten years on from breakthrough Bride album Angel Blood and Dobson hasn't lost her knack for a great pop hook. The single Shining Star and Horses endear themselves steadily, while the groove-laden Free As A Bird keeps things light. With the likes of Sarah Blasko's Robert F. Cranny, Paul mac and Jackie Orszaczky involved, Dobon's songs get the lift they need. Bronwy Thompson
October 7, 2007
Sunday Mail, Adelaide
In Short: Golden voice loses none of its lustre.
EX-LEONARD'S Bride vocalist Abby Dobson returns to the spotlight with this charming set of pretty songs that display an intricately layered and expertly mixed talent in full bloom.
Rise Up instantly reminds its listener of the delicate and deeply emotive quality of Dobson's voice from the first to the last. It's clear her time away has left her loaded with good material and refilled her desire to hit the mark.
The songs sparkle with that necessary musical pixie dust called inspiration, sweetly crying out for love whether on the flushed Cloud Watching, funky throwaway It's Only Love, reassuring You Will Find Your Way or pouty sigh of Shining Star.
Sarah Blasko's musical partner Robert F. Cranny turns up to spin some magic on the terrific Horses and esteemed Paul Mac.
The time may well be ripe for Abby's resurgence; after all Missy Higgins has made a mini-fortune covering the ground Dobson had been tilling with Leonardo's Bride.
Dobson will support The Waifs at the Governor Hindmarsh on Sunday November 18.
Abby Dobson Press"A mega watt powerful voice which conjures melancholy, romance and sex, seemingly out of the ether" – the independent, england
"Abby Dobson’s curiously arousing sulk sinks into slow release melodies like a body into a scented bath" – rolling stone.
‘…she belts out power ballads, delicate laments and quirky, catchy melodies with professional ease. Dobson seems to be one part Gwen Stefani to two parts Sinead O'Connor;…a tightly coiled set which hints at stadium status." Jane Cornwell, The Independent, England,
"imagine some half-candied, half-blistering blend between Marianne Faithful, Shirley Manson, Edie Brickell and a female Feargal Sharkey. …. Dobson has unmistakable star quality" the scotsman, scotland'Her voice is a marvelous instrument [one marvels at its resonance and breadth] ….dobson's dreamy yet powerful delivery
- sydney morning herald
‘…seductive rapture …’ - rolling stone
‘…the wave of sound upon which the immaculate abby dobson surfs, casting lyrics of urban mystification as she goes. as i always say when i get too excited - gorgeous !’ ….- revolver magazine, sydney
‘i swoon as she effortlessly plays with syncopation and phrasing, melody, and the beating hearts of the audience….’. - the brag, sydney
‘..her voice - sultry, mournful, with a hint of vulnerability - tamed the entertainment centre crowd’…. - The Australian
Abby Dobson's remarkable singing, both the sound and the mesmerising style of her delivery, is the key intoxicant, but one with a delayed-action effect - only rarely does she really let rip and belt it out, yet the layers of phrasing and feeling are compacted in her voice to a recurrently spine-tingling depth; imagine some half-candied, half-blistering blend between Marianne Faithful, Shirley Manson, Edie Brickell and a female Feargal Sharkey…. Dobson has unmistakable star quality. - The Scotsman, Scotland.
‘…walks the tight-rope between quality and accessibility…..Abby Dobson's vocals layer an earthy passion with soothing huskiness….’ - Time Out, London
‘….startlingly beautiful’ – Daily News, New York.Brett Winterford
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD - September 21, 2007
Pop's wounded angel is back to mend hearts, her own included.
Location: The Basement
Address: 29 Reiby Pl, Sydney
Date: 27 September 2007
Tickets: $18 plus bookng fee.
Phone Bookings: (02) 9251 2797
Online Bookings: www.thebasement.com.au
Abby Dobson, the voice of Australian pop artisans Leonardo's Bride, knows how to own a stage.
Whether singing to 70,000 in The Domain, with giant angel wings fixed to her back, or crooning to a tiny Newtown club on Christmas Eve, Dobson is radiant. It is rare to see her on stage without an ear-to-ear grin.
"It's a facade," she says. "Everybody always says how happy I am. I'm always surprised."
Off stage, she says, things aren't always so rosy. In the six years since Leonardo's Bride took an extended hiatus, Dobson has been waging war with herself on a personal and creative level.
It's a struggle that has helped shape Dobson's solo debut, Rise Up, which the singer admits has been too many years in the making.
"It was never my intention to take so long," Dobson says. "There were lots of personal roadblocks. I had a period of bad health, which made me retreat from a lot of things and go on a journey inward to heal."
Dobson also struggled to realise her vision for how her debut record should sound. She experimented with several producers, many of whom attempted to create something "clever and interesting", but none that shaped something she would "feel like playing over again".
"I wanted the album to feel open-hearted and not contrived," she says. "I wanted to be excited and moved by it."
For an album written during such a difficult period, Rise Up has come out as an uplifting collection of songs - much to Dobson's surprise. Most songs speak like a gentle reassurance or a pep talk to a friend that's down and out.
"I thought I was writing a melancholy record," Dobson says. "When I was writing the songs, I wasn't happy. It's just that once I sing [them], they automatically sound happy. My voice makes things sound that way."
In many ways, the fractured process behind making the album has worked in Dobson's favour. Several of her "little experiments" with various producers and musicians have found their way onto the record.
Phil Punch, Chris Townend, Tony Buchen and Paul McKercher have recorded or mixed parts of the album. Arrangers such as Robert F. Cranny, who has worked with Sarah Blasko, helped shape a few songs, as did Paul Mac, for whom Dobson sung the irresistible Gonna Miss You on 3000 Feet High.
Veteran Jackie Orszaczky provides stunning string arrangements on the opening and closing tracks, while cameos include Bondi's pop poet David Lane, Leonardo's Bride songwriting partner Dean Manning and Coda violinist Naomi Radom.
"In the end it was put together with love, glue and Paddle Pop sticks."
Rise Up could just as easily be an album of 12 singles as a single body of work. Songs such as the exquisite Horses hit similar heights to Leonardo's Bride's '90s hit Even When I'm Sleeping.
Heartfelt songs, Dobson admits, aren't the flavour of the month on radio.
"But then again, Even When I'm Sleeping was different to everything else on the radio at the time," she says. "It took six months of pushing it; then he had to beg them to stop playing it!"
For now Dobson is just relieved, finally, to realise her labour of love.
"I have been carrying this project for such a long time," she says. "I want to wrap it up and throw it to the sky. It needs a life of its own now."