Fre$h Hugs (released March 12th 2021) is the debut EP from 19 year-old Australian songwriter Tulliah. And what a debut it is. In only fifteen minutes, she manages to deliver one of my favourite records of the year. The polish and coherency on this project is what you might expect from a seasoned artist with a few albums already under their belt. Astonishingly, Tulliah has come out of the gate already equipped with a distinct sound that feels toned and developed. It’s so layered and smoothly produced, it deserves your full attention and best pair of headphones. Whilst it’s true that some credit for the project’s refinement should go to Dean Tuza (producer who has worked alongside fellow indie-aussie Stella Donnelly), the lion’s share belongs to the maturity of the songwriting at the heart of this EP.
Comprised of four tracks, an introduction, and an interlude, Fre$h Hugs decidedly does not overstay its welcome, instead leaving you wanting more. The teenage spirit that defines the EP conjures a dizzying freedom on ‘Distant Dreams’ where Tulliah imagines all the lives she might one day lead, choosing to dream of the possibilities than traverse the reality. The adolescence is also responsible for the care-free disposition on ‘Just My Type (A Little Lonely)’ on which Tulliah sings about falling for someone when you know it won’t last; which might be interpreted as a guilty pleasure if not for the ethereal vocals which suggest something more melancholic.
The sister tracks ‘Hey My Friend’ and ‘Okay’ are about being there for a friend who has gone through a rough patch; easily the most vulnerable moment on the EP. Tulliah uses the poetic motif of the sea to draw out the dark, vast and deep forces her friend faced, and how overwhelming they can seem at times. But together it is less daunting, together it can be navigated; they can weather the storm with each-other. This touching and sensitive insight into the values of friendship demonstrates Tulliah’s lyrical maturity.
For her first release, Tulliah has succeeded in creating something digestible and powerful. Fre$h Hugs is a spectacular EP that shows nothing but promise for future projects.
Words: Max Farey