Sunday, December 4, 2011

Doing the Aussie Crawl with Kasey Chambers

Some of us remember how pissed off the Country Music Association was back in the '70s when Olivia Newton-John kept winning Grammys in the Country music category. "What do Aussies know about country?" they whinged. Quite a bit, as it turned out. Americans like to think that our music belongs only to us, and we get all possessive when someone from another country does it as well (or better).

30 years after Livvy pulled off her Grammy coups, Kasey Chambers came round with much the same story. Raised in the outback in aboriginal settings, she nevertheless developed a taste for traditional Country - and not only that, she was good at making it herself.

Kasey has a very winsome voice, with more than a trace of whiskey husk, and her writing is better than most. Many of these songs are very sparsely instrumentalized, making great use of just Kasey's voice and her guitar. She sings about things she learned in the desolate Australian plains, like trains, loneliness and pining for companionship. And she can rip your heart out one moment, then slam you into the chair the next. I love music like this.

"Barricades And Brickwalls" is her 2nd US album, released in 2001. Start with songs like "If I Were You", "Crossfire" and "Not Pretty Enough", and go from there. You'll be wanting to hear more, I guarantee it.

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