Tag Archives: Kasey Chambers

525. Kasey Chambers – “Storybook”

Another (relatively recent) purchase in need of a ‘catch up’ review.

a album cover Chambers Kasey Chambers Storybook Songbook CD review blogKasey Chambers is definitely a guilty pleasure around here, and when she released an album of covers I was intrigued.

The collection reveals a few lessons.

1. Chambers has excellent musical taste.  It’s hard to argue with the Gram Parsons, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Paul Kelly, Fred Eaglesmith and Gillian Welch selections (in terms of both artist and song choices). Hearing Earle’s Nothing but a child and Kelly’s Everything’s turning to white with a female voice does add something new to their respective narratives and vibes.

2. She has a decent contacts list, with Kelly and Jimmy Barnes popping in to duet (Kelly very well, Barnesy not so much).

3. While some tunes are excellent reinterpretations, or at least decent homages, in the end it still feels like a diversion from her core business of penning original tunes that intrigue and excite.  Sure it’d be great fun to pop into her regular gigs down the road from her house where she has a covers band, it still doesn’t stack up against the ‘real thing’ (her music, or the originals of said tunes).

So add KC to the growing list of overdue new albums.

File under: Familiar tales

428. Kasey Chambers, Poppa Bill And The Little Hillbillies – “Little Kasey Chambers and The Lost Music”

One last pre-K review (actually, I’ve just remembered another J I own – so this is second last!).

I am without children, so I am typically spared the perils of navigating the murky world of children’s music, bedevilled as it is with much that is cloying, aggravating, embarrassing and downright painful.

Sure, there a little nuggets of gold courtesy of them fine folks at CTW (oh, and a J record I should go fish out!), but I am spared all the merchandising masquerading as music that seems to clutter the lounges of so many parents I know.

Nevertheless, I somehow thought it would be a good idea to check out this little ‘family album’ from Kasey, her Dad, and various of their infant family members.

I played it  once upon purchase, shelved it, and was only reminded of its existence by Kasey’s newie, and also seeing Bill and KC performing a track off here (Dad, Do You Remember?) live on stage.

Put succinctly, this album has far too many tracks featuring children singing. They can hold a rhythm quite well, and the sentiments are sweet and well-intentioned (I’d think divorced parents might find Two Houses a useful counselling tool), but there are too few straight ahead country numbers. The title track ain’t bad though:

There are also a lot of mentions of Aussie fauna. I’m guessing it’d work for the 3-6 year old market, and while I am immature, I’m not that spritely.

File under: A Christmas pressie for the little jackaroo/jillaroo in your family?

 

426. Kasey Chambers – “Little Bird”

Here’s another recent purchase.

There was much excitement around our abode at the news of a new Chambers album.  Here is an artist who unites my wife, my mother-in-law and I in mutual admiration.

I was surprised, once I thought about it, how long it’d been since a genuine solo Chambers album. She’d been off collaborating (very successfully) with her hubbie, and also did a children’s album I need to review also.

I’d call this CD a return to form, if it wasn’t for the fact that KC hasn’t really dropped the ball along the way.  Instead this album should be seen as the latest installment in her evolution, whole also capturing much of where she’s been before.

It is an unashamedly country album, but with a modern-pop twist when it takes her fancy. She rocks out superbly on a couple of tracks (Train Wreck is a standout), but also experiments with some old-time bluegrass on a track you’d swear she dug up from some traditional songbook (Georgia Brown – she also reworks the tailend of  Train Wreck into a banjo-fuelled tune).

Not everything works. Nullarbor is too cloyingly twee for my liking, but I’ll accept some misjudged indulgences, because Kasey doesn’t need or like to be told what to do (as the title track proclaims):

File under: Another feather in her cap/stetson

157. Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – “Rattlin’ Bones”

Here’s an album I approached with much trepidation when it was announced.

Album Cover Kasey Chambers Rattlin' Bones Rattling Shane NicholsonScenario: Chambers hooks up romantically with dude I’d never heard of and then they announce they’ve spawned not only a child but also a collection of tunes.  This struck me as a recipe for self-indulgence and coat-tail riding.

As on several posts this week, I was proven mightily mistaken.

This album was a revelation.  Gangly Nicholson has dragged his missus into a wonderful place.  This is a mature version of Barricades and much more consistent. The sound is definitely rural, and warm and cosy.

There is banjo, harmonies, lap steel, switching lead vocals and consistency aplenty.  They sound like they had a ball making it, and the couple of times I’ve seen them play it live  (in its entirety) the live dynamic’s been fantastic.

Nicholson seems to have tempered Kasey’s more nasally inclinations, and there are fewer throw away tracks and no dull ones.  The fingerpicking The Devil’s Inside My Head is screaming out for a Nick Cave cover (and a great tune in its current form).

This album isn’t quite as conducive to singalongs as Barricades (as I can’t harmonise for shit), but it is well and truly a keeper.

File under: Best musical coupling since the Capt’n and Tennille?

156. Kasey Chambers – “Carnival”

Hear that noise? That’s me backpedalling. Kasey Cambers has walloped my assertions about sticking to her core strengths.

Album Cover Kasey Chambers Carnival CaseyThere isn’t anything resembling old-school country on this release. Instead Chambers is more squarely in the rock domain. And doing quite nicely at it thank you.

Gone also is the usual lap steel from her pa. The sound is more lush, and at times even lounge-y.

The songwriting has matured. It doesn’t have the laughs or the quirkiness of her early work.

The single off this album was also well-chosen . Nothing at All is catchy and appropriately representative of her shift in focus, yet the most typical in terms of vocalisation.

Having listened to the albums in such quick succession it is impressive how far such a regularly pigeonholed artist has progressed across four albums.  Tunes like Railroad and the Tim Rogers‘ collaboration I Got You Know are a long way from the content of her debut.

Kasey’s performs one other minor miracle of note here – making Powderfinger’s Bernard Fanning sound almost bearable.  It is also hard to conceive of how said coupling didn’t spontaneously generate their own Aria category…

File under: Freakishly fine

155. Kasey Chambers – “Wayward Angel”

A wise Australian leader once labelled a Northern neighbour “recalcitrant” for not doing what he was told.

Album Cover Kasey Chambers Wayward AngelI fire the same accusation at Ms. Chambers for not heeding my reviews.

This album is indeed wayward, as Chambers drifts away from mining her most lucrative seam (i.e. true old-school country) and instead explores some rather barren land over in that very bland new-country region.

So again we hear slow-paced, over-played middle-of-the-road fare.

You may have noted little discussion of Kasey’s hit singles from previous albums. I tend to find said tunes to be the more obvious and superficial offerings from her songbook. Here she flips the form again, as the songs with filmclips off here are the best of a mediocre bunch.

I have a big soft spot for the silliness of Pony as it plays to the girly-ness of Chambers’ voice (or should that be plays up?). And the faux yodelling is a nice touch. Similarly, Hollywood works in a painfully obvious fashion.

My sense of this album is that Chambers is pandering to the core of her audience – tweens and mums – and neglecting the ten-gallon hat crowd. And we’re not gonna stand for gaddamit!!

File under: Missing Mephistopheles

154. Kasey Chambers – “Barricades & Brickwalls”

I’m an unashamed fan of from-the-heart, hillbilly country rock.  I mean the sort of corny stuff that Hank Williams was pumping out sixty years, with  a bit of pedal steel, a twang in the voice and sorrowful tale to tell.

Album Cover Kasey Chambers Barricades and BrickwallsThis second effort from Kasey Chambers delivers on all fronts.  She sings about trains and heartache, feeling blue and lonesome.

Gone are the middle-of-the-road tendencies of her debut.  Now she’s in serious ho-down mode.  You can slap your thigh to several tunes on here, and the rest are custom made for singing loud while driving the open road.

Sure, her voice is nasel and slightly childlike.  But there are no shortage of other singers who get by without angelic vocals (Dylan, anyone?).  More important is her songwriting and delivery which are unpretentious and moving.

Back on the Williams comparisons,  A Little Bit Lonesome could have been torn straight from his songbook (although he might have avoided the arse reference, at least in the recording studio).

The opening title track sets the scene well and Still Feeling Blue and I Still Pray are sterling efforts. The album’s not perfect.  There are fewer duller moments in the middle. But this is my go-to Kasey effort.

File under: Breakthrough blowout