Buckle up for some of the best music you’ve heard in a long time
Grace Shaw, best known by her stage moniker, Mallrat, first appeared on the music scene a little over four years ago at the tender age of 16. Her debut single, ‘Suicide Blonde’– a song about the self-destructive tendencies of a model-actress she knew who happened to star in the INXS music video of the same name – garnered praise for its juxtaposition of heavy subject matter against the mashup of a bright electro-pop beat. Although Shaw has since stated she isn’t a fan of the song, it turned out to be a fortuitous choice for a debut single.
Following ‘Suicide Blonde’, Shaw has dropped two EPs, Uninvited (2016), In The Sky (2018), and one single, ‘Nobody’s Home’ (2019). With each release, Shaw’s trajectory as an artist has continued to rise; all the while her ethos of wise-beyond-her-years songwriting combined with heavenly vocals and catchy beats remaining at the core of her success.
Now, after having toured the world for the best part of 2019, Shaw has taken a brief pit-stop to drop her third and latest EP, Driving Music.
Clocking in at just over 16 minutes, Driving Music is Mallrat’s shortest release to date. In spite of its short runtime, the six-track EP packs in elements of rap, pop, electronic, indie and even hints of folk. In the hands of anyone less capable it would likely be a complete disaster, but anyone who has listened to Shaw’s previous efforts will know this is what she does best.
However, for those worried Shaw may be treading all ground – worry not. For just how In The Sky differed to Uninvited, so too does Driving Music.
To start, the soundscape on Driving Music is a step away from the usual upbeat tone we’ve heard in previous offerings. Shaw opts for a slightly more melancholic and subdued sound that resonates throughout the EP’s entirety.
Without a doubt, however, the most notable difference with this latest offering is Shaw’s voice; she just sounds that much more confident, which serves to complement perfectly the lyricism; which is some of Shaw’s most introspective and personal to date.
Shaw said of the newfound confidence found on the EP:
“I think I’ve just become a better songwriter and producer as I’ve gone along. I’ve also figured out how to use my voice a little bit better. It’s a more polished piece of work – that’s the biggest difference.”
These days, when not busy fulfilling a jam-packed touring schedule, Shaw divides her time between Melbourne and Los Angeles. A far cry from her life spent in the ‘burbs of Brissie as a youth. However, it’s said that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and this geographical divide is perhaps the catalyst for Driving Music containing a number of tracks focused on themes of family and companionship.
Take, for example, the EP’s lead single ‘Charlie’ – named after Shaw’s beloved pet labrador – is as simultaneously calming as it is candid. Soft piano riffs and snappy electronic percussion combine with Shaw’s hypnotic vocals as she lays bare snippets of her upbringing:
“Daddy worked out west and he worked so hard / My mum she smells like cigarettes and they broke each other’s heart/She says that love is like a chess game / And boys gotta do the chasing / When did I start taking her advice? I raised myself and that’s alright”
‘Charlie’ also touches on wanting someone to rely on, and this feels like the overarching premise of Driving Music.
Whether it’s going on a late night drive with a friend or the sight of a familiar face after a long day, our desire to avoid feelings of isolation and how our relationships with others – familial, platonic and romantic – mitigate these feelings, come under the microscope on Driving Music.
Shaw’s ability to create songs that evoke mixed feelings of relatability and nostalgia has always been a huge drawcard to her allure as an artist. Her best yet, Driving Music offers this in spades. An absolute must listen.
Driving Music is out now through Dew Process.