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This Album Changed My Life: Jenny Mitchell on Fanny Lumsden’s Small Town Big Shot

17 March 2022 | 11:44 am | Mallory Arbour

We caught up with Jenny Mitchell and asked her to tell us about an album that changed her life – ‘Small Town Big Shot’ by Fanny Lumsden.

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New Zealand singer-songwriter, Jenny Mitchell made her stage debut at four with her country-music loving father Ron at the local country music club in Gore near Invercargill in New Zealand’s south. 

At 14, she placed third in national TV show New Zealand’s Got Talent, a formative experience which taught her how to stand up for herself and to believe in the songs she was writing. As an adult the richness of her life experiences is reflected in the variety of topics she addresses in her songs. 

She specialised in Gender Studies in her Bachelor of Arts degree, studying the struggles of women dealing with sexism, writing about artists who inspired her like New Zealand songwriter, Tami Neilson. Neilson produced Mitchell’s 2021 single Trouble Finds a Girl, a powerful and timely song about sexual misconduct in the music industry. 

Mitchell recently released her new single, Somehow and its accompanying video, her first release for new label home, Cooking Vinyl Australia. Produced by Matt Fell, Somehow is the start of a fresh chapter for Mitchell, a unique musical offering with a dark Americana feel to it, exhibiting a slightly different side vocally to what she has delivered on previous records. It showcases a haunting banjo part from Fell alongside Mitchell’s soulful vocal.

We caught up with Jenny Mitchell and asked her to tell us about an album that changed her life.

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Jenny Mitchell on Fanny Lumsden’s Small Town Big Shot:

“I’ve witnessed countless magical moments at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. I’m certain, however, that I’ll never forget watching Fanny Lumsden and Dan Stanley Freeman perform at the 2017 Golden Guitar Awards – in a denim jumpsuit and a trucker cap. The pair were nominated that year for Small Town Big Shot; an album that undoubtedly changed my life. 

Just a few days before their golden debut, I sipped coffee with Roger Corbett (The Bushwhackers) as we discussed how monumental Small Town Big Shot was. Not just that it was a great album, but that Fanny was changing the game. Paving a whole new road. 

Small Town Big Shot tells stories of family, connection with the land, and truths of small towns. Banjo, double bass, and percussion that are played in a way that doesn’t fit the usual country mould, all tied together with simple vocals. Fanny’s voice is there to tell a story and no ears that hear it will ever need or want for anything more.   

Totem Tennis is a go-to “get in a good mood quick” track for me. Soapbox is much the same. But my highlight will always be Land of Gold. The charming rambling lyrics of this tune have filled my headphones, car stereo and kitchen more times than I can remember. After joining the Country Halls Tour for a short time in 2019, I treasured the song even more. Being on the tour is a whirlwind of kindness, grit, and warmth. Much like Fanny’s music I suppose. 

It goes without saying that the albums following Small Town Big Shot have been nothing short of epic. Two years after hearing the songs of Fallow, I still had that goosebump, new music feeling while listening to Fallow & Variations last week. Proof that good songs will always be good songs, whatever flavours they’re wrapped in.”


For more of our This Album Changed My Life series, go here.
Keep up to date with Jenny Mitchellon her Facebook page here.