Stella Donnelly, #MeToo, and New Stinging Single, “Old Man”

Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana

Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana

In her newest release, 26-year-old singer songwriter Stella Donnelly shows that she’s not afraid to bite back. After signing to US indie label Secretly Canadian in 2017, Donnelly re-released her EP Thrush Metal and has since received widespread praise for her unapologetic lyrics and crafty use of the guitar in her projects, as well as performances at festivals, such as South by Southwest.

“Old Man” is the leading single off the Western Australia native’s upcoming album Beware of the Dogs, and Donnelly delivers nothing short of a scathing commentary on the social privileges of being a male in today’s society. The track starts off with a sunny disposition, sounding like it could be of the typical flowery indie-rock persuasion, but rolls into sharp lyrics like “Your personality traits don't count. If you put your dick in someone's face.” The track culminates with the existential question to the song’s antagonist, “Oh, are you scared of me, old man, or are you scared of what I'll do? You grabbed me with an open hand. The world is grabbin' back at you,” highlighting the relatively new practice of publicly— and privately— holding sexual assault abusers accountable for their actions.

The song is a product of social awareness and female empowerment surrounding #MeToo, with Donnelly creating both the chords and track’s chorus around the same time 81-year-old Woody Allen called the movement a “witch hunt.” It’s also based off the singer’s own experience in the music industry with men who used their power to exploit women. She explains, “I needed to write this song for myself because if I hadn’t I would still feel quite angry about things that I probably let slide in my younger, more naive days. I have no intentions of publicly calling out these people but it’s a nice feeling to me knowing that they may hear this song one day and feel perhaps an inch of the humiliation and powerlessness that they inflicted on me back then.” This type of socially conscious song isn’t uncommon in Donnelly’s repertoire, with others such as “Boys Will Be Boys,” a track about the victim-blaming of sexual abuse survivors, which will also be included on her forthcoming album.

Beware of the Dogs, set for release on March 8th, was written and recorded with her band of best friends at home in Australia, including George Foster on guitar, Jennifer Aslett on bass, and Tayla Valenti on drums. With help from producer Dean Tuza, Beware of the Dogs introduces more of Donnelly’s musical abilities without losing the intimate nature listeners have come to know from Thrush Metal. Expect to hear her signature wit and biting humor threaded throughout the 13 track LP. Donnelly discloses, “This album made me feel like I was back in the driver’s seat. It was really liberating and grounding to realize nobody can f**k with this except me.”

Her tour for Beware of the Dogs will kick off in North America on March 15th, and after a short break in April, will continue through Europe. Stella Donnelly will be supported by Faye Webster on the first leg of the tour.