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is a unique Australian singer/songwriter and performer. She is a
quality performer who always wins her audience irrespective of their
age or demographic background. She writes and sings about contemporary
and historic Australian life developing great pictures of the issues
and the experience of ordinary people. She has much to offer her
audience and I believe she is a great representative of Australian
- Bill Hauritz, Director, Woodford Folk
"One of the most authentic voices
to come out of Australia in 15 years "
- Drum Media, Sydney
All references and comparisons go out of the window
when faced with a unique talent. Penelope Swales is
such a talent.
- Zabadak Magazine, France
Many baby boomers out
there are lamenting the passing of those 60's protest songs and the
lameness of today's folk lyrics. Well I suggest you let Penelope Swales
introduce you to the human condition of the new millennium.
Stoeckel, South Australian Blues Society
Swales is a great acoustic guitarist, bold songwriter and spectacular
vocalist ... enough power to touch anyone.
- Brian Paterson, Sunday Herald-Sun
****Winner 2019 Alistair
Hulett Songs for Social Justice Award****
Penelope has won the Alistair
Hulett Songs for Social Justice Award with her song
Hear the song here
This song raises the issue of whether
fascism is on the rise in a new form. It is about the exploitation of
disgruntled voters by right-wing populist politicians, who play
particularly on fears about immigration and refugees. The song
discusses the skillful and insidious dissemination of right-wing
propaganda and misinformation via social media by paid consultants who
target specific voter groups in an effort to influence the outcome of
democratic elections. The example referenced in the song is the
influence exerted on the 2016 US Presidential election by Cambridge
Analytica (though a number of other elections around the world have
In Australia and other countries, we have
seen a rise of hard-right elements in major political parties, with the
power to radically affect policy outcomes in a way that is
progressively concentrating power and undermining civil freedoms. The
example in the song is the establishment of the Department of Home
Affairs which brought border control, immigration, federal policing,
emergency management, counter-terrorism, multicultural affairs,
transport security and cybersecurity under the purview of hard-right
Minister Peter Dutton. The song warns that voters' interests, and
potentially democracy itself, will be abandoned once the power-seekers
have achieved their goals.
Penelope's entire back
catalogue is now available at www.penelopeswales.bandcamp.com
Including many rare recordings that have been out of print for more
than a decade, Penelope's back catalogue has finally been made
Two Decades of Topical Songwriting
"And what will be my legacy?
One of the luckiest people in the world..."
- Legacy 2010
"It's important to remember that we did nothing to deserve
this good luck.
These luxuries are the legacies of the labours and the struggles of the
people of the past.
Of the women, of the unions, of the civil rights movement, of those who
worked so hard.
Who risked their lives, who compromised their families, so we could se
so lucky to be here,
In a beautiful place, in a time of peace"
- So Lucky
Consisting of 15 tracks spanning 20 years with
some new recordings, a stunning music video by Heidi Douglas and a
collection of fascinating extras ranging from rare live footage to
inspirational videos from the international environment movement,
"Legacy" shows the power of Penelope's political writing at it's best.
See the music video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyI5hAvkIug
Climate Change, Reconciliation, Human Rights,
Uranium Mining, social commentary from the Beijing Massacre to
September 11 - The issues that have shocked, frustrated and fired a
generation have all been put into words by one of Australia's most
articulate and fearless songwriters. Fans of Swales' work have always
placed her topical material at the top of their favourites, screamed as
requests at every gig. For the first time in one collection, Penelope
brings 15 of her major pieces together in an album that is both
challenging and uplifting. If you're sick of safe, pre-digested product
and want to hear the guts, passion and issues of the real world
expressed, this album is for you.
Swales stopped full-time touring in 2005 when
the need to care for an elderly parent brought her back to her home in
Victoria's Dandenongs. There, approaching 40, she decided to return to
study and attain a double degree in Law and Anthropology, with an eye
towards doing something more hands-on towards saving the world in later
life. She soon established herself as one of Monash Law Faculty's top
students, with an academic record that has seen her begin, even as an
undergraduate, to be invited to write for the Alternative Law Journal,
a publication that concerns itself closely with the state of Human
Rights in Australia and around the world.
Living on a student's income with a law
student's schedule restrained Swales' recording options, with only the
sparse and sensitive "Skin: Deep" being released in 2007. Music still
clamours for expression in Swales' soul, however. When long-time
supporter and environmental activist Stephen Luntz approached her with
a proposal to finance a music video of "Black Carrie" - a song which he
asserts changed his life and set him on his lifelong path as a
campaigner for the Victorian Greens, Swales saw an opportunity to do
something really substantial with the body of political work that had
been spread across 9 solo albums, many of them out of print. Working in
Close collaboration with Tasmanian film-maker Heidi Douglas, They
brought together a collection of songs, footage, images and short films
aimed at encouraging people to shake off the hopelessness and apathy
that can so easily overwhelm and reach for empowerment.
The new material includes "Legacy 2010" - a
re-write of one of her most popular tunes. First penned in 1992, this
song has been updated to include all the issues that trouble us most in
the 21st Century. Also new for fans is "Black Snake Range", a love song
for the unprotected native forest near her home. "So Lucky" exhorts
people not to be complacent about their good fortune.
Swales brings incisive commentary, wry
humour and intelligent rage to the issues that affect us most.
She urges us not just to get angry and helpless but to get active and
involved. Her message is clear. This is our world, she tells, us. It's
time to get busy. It's the legacy of our generation that will count the
This is Swales' 10th solo album. She has also
released 3 CD's and one DVD with festival Favourites Totally Gourdgeous