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Penelope Swales - Bio 

For brief descriptions and quotes, click here. There's is another wonderful review at yoni.com.

Penelope Swales - Bio

Singer and songwriter Penelope Swales, described by Sydney's Drum Media Magazine as "The most authentic voice to come out of Australia in the last 15 years,” combines wry and often outrageous humour with her deep passion for people and issues. Her spoken word material swings from anecdotes bordering on stand-up comedy to an astute presentation of deeply challenging and thought-provoking ideas. She pokes sly fun at our failings while celebrating with insight and compassion our attempts to build a better world and our capacity for love, courage and sensuality.

Swales toured constantly throughout Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, Britain and the US for the early nineties to the mid-noughties, when the need to care for an elderly parent brought her home to the Dandenongs in Melbourne. She now divides her time between caring for her mother (a job she shares with her brother), full-time study and select touring commitments and festivals. She plans in future to combine music with working in Native Title and activist Law.

Much of Swales’ writing reflects her twin passions of social justice and passionate life. Her new album "Legacy" is a CD/DVD set that brings together 20 years of political songwriting and activism. The 15-track CD features 4 new recordings and selection of her most powerful political songs over the last 2 decades. The DVD features a beautifully crafted 8-minute music video by Tasmania's Heidi Douglas and a collection of live footage, photography and favourite inspirational videos from environmental activists from around the world. 

Her 2007 “Skin: Deep”  explores the uncharted territory of human relationships and the dark underbelly of our desires. Written as an antidote to the drier aspects of academia, she describes it as “polymorphous love songs” – polymorphous meaning many changing shapes. Stripped back to soaring, evocative vocal and powerful and intricate guitar, the production is as bare as the subject matter, giving a sense of nakedness and utter honesty.

Her 2003 studio album "Monkey Comfort" was number 6 on the Australian Independent Blues and Roots charts for two months and garnered numerous 4-star reviews. In 2005 at the behest of fans she released "Archive Vol 2: Songs from the Borderline" which showcases the best of 3 early releases that had been unavailable for over a decade.

Highlights of Swales’ career include a headline the New York's Estfest Women's Music Festival in 2004 and a standing ovation for her formal showcase at the North East Regional Folk Alliance in New York State. Her favourite event of recent years was giving workshops at the MiDi School of Music in Beijing. She was also described as the pick of the 2000 Port Fairy Folk Festival by Melbourne's Inpress Magazine.

She is increasingly being sought not only as a musician but also as a public speaker, appearing in events like the Woodford Folk Festival Great Green Debate and “A Conversation with the Archbishop” at Federation Square in Melbourne. Despite still being an undergraduate, her outstanding results at Monash Law School has already led to her being invited to contribute to the Alternative law Journal, an academic, peer-reviewed publication concerned with human rights in Australia and abroad.

She is also know for her work as singer, guitarist and instrument maker for festival favourites Totally Gourdgeous.

For further information email:
 ph: +61 3 5968 1625



- Between Light And Dark (1993)                                    
- Returning on Foot (1995)
- Homemade Wine (1997)
- Live At Woodford  (1998)
- Justifying Your Longings to the Doctor (1998)
- “Archive” demo's out-takes and one-offs 1995-2000 (2000)
- Monkey Comfort (2003)
- "Archive Vol 2: Songs from the Borderline (2005)
- Skin: Deep (2007)
- Legacy (2010)