CANADIAN singer/songwriter and comedian Shirley Gnome’s wickedly explicit lyrics and hilarious, provocative insights into sex and human nature makes a Rodney Rude show seem like a Sunday school concert.
The subject matter in songs such as Penis Hand, Men Like to Come on My Face and Blew my Load are confronting – and they come with language that would embarrass a navy.
But it’s not mere shock tactics to draw an audience, Gnome says,
The obscenely honest lyrics are a natural expression of how she sees the world, a way of getting people to talk about things usually hidden.
“Challenging with humour … I hope to alleviate shame in people … for people to be alive and to be sexual without being ashamed.”
Her style is mostly country, partly because it’s a genre that lends itself to her outrageous “love” ballads, and partly because when she first learnt guitar the beginner three cords were “country style”.
“Immediately I went to naughty with it,” she says.
Surprisingly, with lyrics about anal sex and Jesus, there’s been little backlash in Canada or Australia, Gnome says down the blower from her Vancouver recording studio.
Her songs aren’t a protest, she says, but Menage a Twat, with its line “I don’t care how drunk I am, the vag is a nasty place”, rebuffs the idea all women enjoy a threesome.
“It’s not about shaming the vagina, but about having sex I don’t want to have … being pushed into doing something I don’t want to do … [and] the idea that all women are a little bit gay, which is not true,” she says, getting hot under the collar.
Gnome’s 2012 album C*untry Music belts out tunes that are embarrassing, hilarious and titillating reflections of what happens when bodies collide.
Having signed up with Canada’s largest independent music label, 604 Records, her new album Taking It Up The Notch comes with a warning; “the cleverly-carnal cabaret comedy is NOT for the faint of heart”, the blurb says.
“I was signed up to do new things, which is why it takes it up a notch,” Gnome says.
“It’s country, but also pop and soft rock and a bit of jazz.”
Aussie love song
There’s a love song to Australia – and yes it’s rude – but not about Aussies who share a sense of humour with Canadians, Gnome says.
Part of Fringe World, Taking It Up The Notch is on at Fremantle’s Federal Hotel, January 27–29 and at Northbridge’s Noodle Palace Jan 31 to February 8. Tix $21–26 at fringeworld.com.au
by JENNY D’ANGER