Faint Spells, the name given to the musical project conceived by Rebekah Davies, started as a one-woman enterprise, became a band, then circled back to a solo act.
After a decade of living in Los Angeles, Sydney and New York, Rebekah returned to the small island nation, where she spent her childhood, with the intention of taking songs she had been writing since she was a teenager and turning them into a performing, recording entity. Faint Spells were described in a NO magazine feature by Gareth Shute in 2011 as “creating an ominous mood with sparse musical parts that play off the darker elements of Davies’ lyrics.”
After starting a long distance, collaborative recording project with Jonathan Donahue of Mercury Rev in 2010, Rebekah was asked to take Faint Spells on the road to support his band in Brisbane on their tour of Australia in 2015. Eschewing a band for the show, performing solo was an opportunity to present old and new songs in their original, stripped back form.
The genesis of Faint Spells was a show mooted by Australian musician and songwriter, Jen Cloher, who proposed that both she and Rebekah perform together, playing one another’s songs live in front of an intimate audience.
The success of that collaboration, plus the overwhelmingly positive reception from the audience, galvanised Rebekah into transforming Faint Spells into a band. Thomas Healy (Tiny Ruins/The Verlaines) was first on board on lead guitar, followed by Shayne Carter (Straitjacket Fits/Dimmer) and Gary Sullivan (Jean Paul Satre Experience/Dimmer) on bass and drums respectively.
This line up played live between 2010 - 2012, with such luminaries as An Emerald City, The Drab Doo Riffs, and The Checks. Feature articles subsequently appeared in Black magazine, the aforementioned NO magazine, and the Sunday Star Times magazine. In 2012, film director Kirsty Cameron was so impressed with Rebekah's composition ‘Vultures’ that she included it on the soundtrack of her film ‘Swansong’, which saw a worldwide festival release.
This recording came from sessions that were started by Rebekah and Tom during a highly fertile, creative period for Faint Spells. Shayne soon became motivated to produce the tracks that had been started in Tom’s home studio. He saw joining her band as another opportunity to play with a musician that he respected: “I just really liked Rebekah’s songs – she has a great sense of aesthetics and has a really good knowledge of music, and that comes through in the songs she writes.”
These additional sessions served to capture the sound and the essence of the live band in the studio, which went from strength to strength. Comparisons to artists such as PJ Harvey and Hope Sandoval arose, both musicians that Rebekah has a profound respect for.
Drawing from a palate of influences as diverse as Billie Holiday’s version of All Of Me, to the fractured squall of Scritti Politti’s Skank Bloc Bologna, Faint Spells became an act that swung from heartbroken incantations to indignant, bruised, revved-up guitar anthems. As Grant Fell opined in Black magazine, succinctly too: “expect something a little dark, a little sweet and a little tough.”