Beware of the Dogs

Beware of the Dogs

There’s something almost startlingly disarming about the way Stella Donnelly can convey such immense, moving messages in songs typically anchored by bright, gentle vocals and acoustic guitars. The Western Australian singer-songwriter first made her mark in 2017 with “Boys Will be Boys,” a powerful song that is, despite its sweet melody, an all-out attack on the culture of sexual assault victim-blaming. Two years later, her debut album is a melodic collection of guitar-based songs that directly address toxic masculinity, abuse, white Australia, and the breakdown of a relationship. Of course, Beware of the Dogs isn’t all doom and gloom, but happy songs aren’t necessarily Donnelly’s cup of tea. “I struggle to write about the flowers and the birds and the bees and the blue skies,” she tells Apple Music. “There's gotta be a bit of grit in there somewhere.” Read about the stories and meaning behind each song on the album below. “Old Man” “It was really important to me that I came out with a strong statement on the first song. After putting out ‘Boys Will Be Boys,’ I received so much love, but I also got challenged by a lot of people. I had to make a decision that I wasn't going to back away in fear, I was going to come out, guns blazing, middle finger up. It’s my way of making sure listeners knew I wasn’t moving away from that activism or outspokenness.” “Mosquito” “This is probably the only love song I'll ever write. I find myself having to say ‘Sorry, mum’ after singing it live, sometimes. The vibrator line is the only way I could really express my love for someone. It had to be a little bit crass. It’s hard to find a way of speaking about love that isn't too optimistic.” “Season’s Greetings” “I wanted to paint a picture of a Christmas party gone wrong, where you're forced into a small space with people who you generally spend the rest of the year avoiding. It’s a chance to learn a little bit about ourselves, if not about someone else.” “Allergies” “I actually had a breakup the day I recorded this. You can hear it in my voice. I'm all choked up and snotty and crying, and my two best friends were sitting on the couch with fried chicken, chocolate, and tissues for when I finished the song. It's not perfect. Some bits are shaky. But in terms of getting across that mood and that truth, I wouldn’t change anything.” “Tricks” “It's a bit of a joke song about the people who heckled me when I used to play covers. I'd be singing ‘Wonderwall’ for the 50th time that week and then someone would yell, ‘Play Cold Chisel! Play “Khe Sanh”!’ Every weekend they’d heckle me, I’d finally play Crowded House and they'd be happy. That's what I mean by the tricks. They only liked me when I played what they wanted.” “Boys Will Be Boys” “It was a last-minute decision to put this on the record, because it came out on the EP in 2017. Unfortunately, I feel like its message still needs to come through and be heard by more people. I spoke to my dad about it and he said, ‘A lot of people have heard that song, but a lot more people haven't heard that song.’ It's still painful to perform, it challenges me and feels powerful to be speaking out. Certain songs lose the weight they had when you first wrote it. ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ hasn't changed.” “Lunch” “It was originally meant to be just me and an acoustic guitar. One day I was playing these random chords, and my bass player, Jenny, was playing really low notes on the guitar. We ended up adding drums, keyboard, cello, and it became this beautiful thing. My guitarist, George, had the idea for the drums. He stood in the middle of the room with a snare and a tom—not even the whole drum kit—and made the part. We were all on the other side of the room cheering him on! It was a really special moment.” “Bistro” “‘Bistro’ was actually originally a full song with a chorus, bridge, and everything, but I was struggling to tell the story that I was trying to tell. So I cut lines and just repeated the same lyrics over and over again. It was all I needed to say, really.” “Die” “I wrote ‘Die’ initially because I wanted a song that I could go jogging to. None of my music is very joggable. I’ll tell you what, though: I haven’t gone jogging once since putting out the song. So that didn't work out very well.” “Beware of the Dogs” “It’s about Australian identity and what that actually means for me, as an Anglo, white Australian, and how my experience of this country can differ so much from somebody else's based on that privilege. It also looks at the people in power, who have all the money and protect it at the expense of others. I guess I'm just trying to use this platform to speak up.” “U Owe Me” “This one's about my old boss at a pub I used to work at back home. Three or four years ago, I was literally pouring flat VB into warm cups. It was a real bleak scenario, but I got so many great experiences from that.” “Watching Telly” “I wrote this song after arriving in Dublin on the day that they voted in the right for women to seek a legal abortion. It was really scary. There were 'No' signs everywhere, lots of protests. I felt so much for the women who had to see these signs questioning the right to make their own decisions for their bodies. I just found it so troubling that there was still such a question about that freedom.” “Face It” “There’s a narrative throughout the album about a relationship breakdown, and I wanted to finish by drawing the line in the sand, moving on from that experience, and going into the next record with something new. It’s my closing speech.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada