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Song You Need to Know: Grace Cummings, ‘A Precious Thing’

‘A Precious Thing’ is the last song to be released off the Melbourne artist’s remarkable new album, ‘Ramona’

Grace Cummings

Tajette O'Halloran

An accomplished feat of emotionally rich songwriting and lush orchestration, Grace Cummings’ third album, Ramona, is raw and evocative, with small details that reach deep into your soul.

“A Precious Thing” is a prime example, the last song to be released off the Melbourne artist’s remarkable new record – tender and stirring, it’s even more proof of Cummings’ talent for pouring her heart into her music.

The track also features a notable lineup of musicians, including acclaimed harpist Mary Lattimore and string arranger/multi-instrumentalist Drew Erickson (Weyes Blood, Mitski, and Lana Del Rey), as well as Jonathan Wilson (Angel Olsen and Father John Misty), who produced the album.

On “A Precious Thing”, Cummings’ voice transforms from soft to angry to completely broken, capturing the intense emotions at the core of her lyrics: “Love is just a thing/That I’m trying to live without/And oh, what a precious thing/But it’s nothing I care about.”

“I wrote that song on Christmas Eve, feeling exactly the way you’d assume from listening to it,” Cummings explains. “It’s just an everyday tragedy that I tried to sculpt into something beautiful.”

“I think it might have every instrument we could think of on it and I am in awe of every musician that was there playing one. I remember sitting in the control room listening to this orchestra of people play to a song I had written when I was feeling the most lonely, the most alone, and I couldn’t believe it had come this far. This song kept me company at a time when I needed it. Whilst it was personal to me, I hope it might keep someone else company and help them feel less alone.” 

Ramona is Cummings’ latest album, following her previous releases Refuge Cove and Storm Queen. Its title is borrowed from a Bob Dylan song, serving as a tool for Cummings to express vulnerability with a little more ease. 

“I didn’t want to be myself so I decided to be Ramona instead,” says Cummings, “full of intensity and melodrama. For me there’s a lot of safety in putting on a costume or a mask; sometimes it feels like the only way to express any true honesty or vulnerability.” 

Cummings hopes that Ramona will offer her audience a similar sense of relief and release. “A lot of the time the only way for me to process what’s happening in my life is to write about it,” she says. “So it’s a deeply personal record.

“But I hope that people come away from this album feeling like the songs were written just for them. Because they were, in a way. Watching the deeply personal evolve into something that’s shared by so many different people makes me feel less lonely in this world.”

Cummings is touring the US and Europe in May and June, with some shows featuring King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (see full tour dates here). 

Grace Cummings’ Ramona is out now.