Dana Hassall - Royal Hotel Queanbeyan (rhq)
She may be on the youthful side of the spectrum but Dana Hassall is far from new to the music scene.
Growing up on an alpaca farm in country Queensland gave Dana the perfect level of isolation to lock herself away and create. From the very early age of eight, she
was already gracing audiences with her songs and, albeit shy, performances. Her first songs certainly reflected life as she knew it back then, including compositions about horse riding, alpaca shearing and a heart-warming ditty about looking out for her younger sister. Suffice it to say she won’t be winning any ARIAs with those tunes, but they gave her the taste of storytelling and a thirst for more.
Fast forward nineteen years and the now Canberra based singer-songwriter is still sharing stories with audiences. Although she’s not so shy on stage these days, she readily admits that she’s no extrovert either.
“I used to hide behind my mum’s legs every time someone started talking to me. I’m a little past that stage but I’ll still take singing over speaking any day. I secretly think that’s why I’m attracted to music – I can tell my story, but it’s pre-written so I don’t need to worry about saying something silly in the spur of the moment!”
Dana’s passion for music is obvious in her single “Spinning Wheels”, the title track from her debut album, released in January 2016.
Spinning Wheels comes from that twenty-something feeling of wondering whether all your effort is going to amount to anything, but soldiering on when it feels like you’re getting nowhere. The rest of the tracks cover everything from talking to strangers, to figuring out where you belong and of course, the occasional love-gone-wrong story.
“I think the album has a bit of a theme of self-discovery that comes from growing up along with my songs. I’m sure listening to all the songs I’ve written in the last nineteen years would tell a pretty revealing story about my life, but figuring out our place in the world is something we all go through and I really hope my experiences can help others find where they belong.”
Spinning Wheels is Dana’s first full length record and sees her return to award winning producer, Matt Fell (Shane Nicholson, Sara Storer, Graeme Connors), who also produced her EP ‘See It Now’. Dana says she’s spent the years since the release of her EP writing and co-writing at every opportunity.
“When it came time to narrow down songs for the album we had a bit of a task, but I’m really happy with the songs we chose. I love a lot of different types of music and that definitely comes through in my songwriting, but somehow they all fit together into one album.” Dana lists the sounds of Ryan Adams, Amos Lee, John Mayer, Shane Nicholson and Harry Hookey as just a few of her favourites in recent years.
“Dana Hassall has developed such a unique & contemporary approach to singing & writing that it not only hooks the ear but causes the listener to tilt their head as if in contemplation of the highest art.” (Luke O’Shea)