The first single lifted from the release is a stirring cover of Midnight Oil’s hit “Beds Are Burning” featuring Missy Higgins taking the lead vocal under Palmer’s signature punk rock piano pounding. In addition to this, the tireless artist has also announced “Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer Present A Bushfire Recovery Event” with special guests Missy Higgins and Fred Leone (Butchulla Song Man) in Melbourne on March 8th, in a bid to raise further funds to aid bushfire recovery efforts with proceeds going to Firesticks Alliance and Seed Mob: a movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people working for climate justice with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
Forty-Five Degrees: A Bushfire Charity Record came together at a dizzying pace between tour dates at Sing Sing Studios in Melbourne with the help of Missy Higgins, Montaigne (singing on “Truganini”), Clare Bowditch (singing on “Black Smoke”) and Fred Leone (playing didjeridoo on “Solid Rock”) who dropped everything to be in the studio and lend their talents to the effort. The album also sees Amanda reunite with Brian Viglione of The Dresden Dolls who plays drums across several tracks and long-time Palmer-and-Higgins collaborator Jherek Bischoff providing both electric and upright bass. The album was helmed by local engineer Anna Laverty and produced by Amanda with Ross Cockle on mastering duties. The artwork was created specifically for the project by newly minted Australian citizen Sarah Beetson.
Featuring a new original Amanda Palmer song, “Suck It Up, Buttercup”, penned in Tasmania after a Mona Foma residency in a confessional booth during which Palmer spoke with over 100 people in Launceston about their fears, the album also contains covers of songs by Midnight Oil, Ted Egan, Jen Cloher, Goanna and Emily Wurramarra, as voted for by Amanda’s Patreon community who inspired the emergency effort. “My ability to move and work fast is made possible by 15,000 full-time supporters on my Patreon crowdfunding page. As the bushfires hit global headlines, many of my patrons reached out and wanted to know if we could collectively help the cause, given that I was touring here,” says Amanda.
Currently on an extensive tour of Australia with her critically acclaimed theatre show There Will Be No Intermission, Palmer has witnessed the urgency of the climate crisis in real time as bushfires ravaged communities all round the nation and wanted to contribute to the relief effort as soon as possible.
“I’m an American, and an American who loves Australia deeply. Neil (Gaiman, my husband) and I landed in Melbourne in advance of my current tour a few days before Christmas, just when the fires really began to rage,” explains Amanda.
“It started with the idea of just covering “Beds are Burning” on solo piano, but then my patrons started clamoring for “Solid Rock”, a song I’d never heard of, and then I called a few friends to help, and the next thing you know, well, we had a whole record. We tracked and mixed eight songs in about five days between my tour dates.
“We decided to give all of the profits to Firesticks Alliance, as a way of looking towards a more hopeful future, one where we are able to learn from the traditional custodians of this land, instead of just paying lip service.
“During my last trip to Australia in 2017, I started reading more deeply about Indigenous land rights and Australia’s unique problems with the climate crisis. I thought I knew things, but I had no idea how much deeper and darker the story ran. This devastating round of bushfires simply cannot be untangled from the spiraling knock-on effects of colonialism and climate ignorance.
“If Australia is the canary in the dark climate coal-mine, I hope a bunch of artists making a response record like this, so fast and with such generosity, can provide a little crack of light.”