Melbourne-based award-winning singer-songwriter Jess Hitchcock is a shooting star in the music cosmos.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following article contains footage of deceased persons.
Presenting talent and wisdom beyond her years, Jess Hitchcock has stirred the Australian music and performing arts scene as a genre-defying force. Her powerful voice and knack for storytelling have seen her shine across pop, country, folk, opera and music theatre, sharing the stage and studio with some of Australia’s industry favourites.
Hitchcock shined with her 2019 debut Bloodline, inspired by her family origins from Saibai Island, in the Torres Strait, and Papua New Guinea. Now the artist comes to life on her new album Unbreakable, a dynamic and sweetly soaring outpouring of feel-good sounds and raw, vulnerable emotion.
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Released on 30 June, the album delves into compelling depths with grace and stirring confidence, providing an ode to overcoming inner and outer life battles and exploring resilience through a female lens.
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From finding the strength to walk away from a toxic relationship while quashing the fear of being alone on ‘On My Own’; the country-tinged ‘Homeward Bound’ which tells the story of returning to a place that was ruined by an ex-lover and reclaiming that space; to the closing title track dedicated to Hitchcock’s dear friend who lost her brother Abraham to suicide during lockdown, the album is a dazzling pop soundtrack to personal growth, overcoming hurdles and being confidence: becoming unbreakable.
“We don’t have to be defined by what happens in our youth, the importance of always learning something new even as we grow older, and never letting anyone dim your light for any reason. The whole album is about what leads up to becoming ‘Unbreakable’.”
Of the inspiring singalong On My Own, Hitchcock explains, “’On My Own’ describes the battle of leaving a toxic relationship behind, even though you don’t want to be on your own. It’s a fun pop take on a heavy subject that will make you want to sing along with me”.
Of her defiant opening track ‘Days Are Long’, she also says, “Life can sometimes feel short but with long hard days in between, this song is about always wanting to learn and understand more about the world we live in. Embracing the time we have on this planet and still being surprised by what life has to offer.”
While Hitchcock radiated warmth and light with the sweet sounds of her ukulele and mesmerising vocals on her delicate and acoustic debut, she takes a new self-assured approach to pop in Unbreakable, exploring bigger and bolder sounds paired with her same alluring vocal performances and compassionate lyricism.
“Bloodline was a real love album, and honestly, if you took everything away from this album, it would sound much the same. But storytelling is always my focus, but this time I wanted the music to become part of the storytelling as well. The music has evolved into something that is still me but with a bigger sound.”
Hitchcock will enchant an enraptured audience in Anglesea this July with an effervescent free-flowing energy. Hosted by The Sound Doctor Presents, An Evening with Jess Hitchcock will see the incredible artist bring her new album to the intimate Anglesea Memorial Hall with support from Jem Cassar-Daley.
“I’m very excited to be heading down to that part of the world again. I wrote my favourite songs from my first album By The Sea while I was down there last. It’s also going to be the first show in a very exclusive run of shows I will be doing to promote the album so make sure you come along if you are around.”
With a resume performing nationwide and overseas with Kate Miller-Heidke, working with Deborah Cheetham AO at Australia’s Indigenous opera company Short Black Opera and having just toured on huge shows with Paul Kelly on Red Hot Summer, this special night of music will see Hitchcock strip it all back to an intimate event, filling the Anglesea Hall with her stunning vocals and beautiful storytelling.
“My music really lends itself to the smaller audience at the moment. I absolutely love those big events and one day when more people know my music and can sing along I would be grateful to be playing with my band on one of those stages. But for now, I love to talk to people about the stories behind my music and connect with people always on that one-to-one level.”
Ahead of her performance in Anglesea later this month, last week saw Hitchcock join an all-star collection of performers in tribute to one of Australia’s greatest artists, Archie Roach.
An evening of song and storytelling at Arts Centre Melbourne’s resplendent Hamer Hall alongside some of the country’s most decorated artists, One Song celebrated the enormous legacy of Gunditjamara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder, song man and storyteller, Archie Roach AC AM, as part of the MSO’s NAIDOC Week program.
“Uncle Archie was such a special human being and every time I sing his music I feel him watching over all of us as we continue to spread his stories. I’m so grateful that I get to sing his music and this event with be very special, One Song is the title track of the very last song he ever released so it’s going to be a beautiful and emotional evening for everyone I think.”
Honoured to be part of the evening, Hitchcock was fortunate to collaborate with the trailblazing First Nations artists back in 2020, performing an intimate rework of his 1990 track ‘Summer of My Life’ on the second episode of The Sound. They recorded the rendition at St Brigid’s Church on Gunditjmara Country, located in southwestern Victoria, with subdued acoustic guitar, and supporting violin and cello.
“We recorded this during the lockdown in Victoria, so I remember getting the exemption to drive down to Gunditjmara country and being ecstatic to leave my house for the first time in a while. We recorded in an old school house that Uncle Archie had been in when he was younger. It was a song of his I hadn’t really listened to before so was enthralled to hear him tell the story.”
“After the recording, he loved the way my voice sounded on this song and encouraged me to sing it if I ever got the chance. After he passed away I have sung it at all of my gigs in honour of him. I still sing it sometimes, but it is very very sad, for many reasons now.”
An Evening With Jess Hitchcock takes place at Anglesea Memorial Hall on 29 July. You can purchase tickets here.