Tag Archives: Bill Chambers

Female Fridays: Featuring Kasey Chambers

Well, I was introduced to Kasey Chambers when Josh at Country Perspective reviewed her latest album, Bittersweet, in August. A day later, I was
reviewing it myself and now I am here to feature Australia’s best-kept secret.

How You Might Know Kasey

Most probably won’t know her; I didn’t know her before I read a review.

Bio

From a 2014 interview on recording her album Bittersweet live:

There’s something to be said about that, particularly in this style of music. Maybe if you’re making dance tracks or something, I get that the layering is part of the process and that is probably a positive thing in that aspect. But playing this sort of music I think there’s something to be said about capturing a moment. That’s what people relate to when they hear you live and I want people to hear who I really am live. I don’t want to go in and sing the songs 30 times over to make sure I get the vocal perfectly and then put auto-tune on and do all those things, which means that you get some dodgy moments but it’s real. I want it to be real.

And just by being “real,” Kasey Chambers has been a platinum-selling, award-winning artist in Australia for fifteen years. Born June 4, 1976, from Mount Gambier, the daughter of Australian country singer Bill Chambers, Kasey grew up around music. Early in her career, she was a member of the Dead Ringer Band, along with her family. After going solo in 1999, she released her first album, The Captain, to both critical acclaim and commercial success. Mixing bluegrass, traditional country, and roots rock, Kasey has gone on to sell millions of solo albums and win numerous awards. She has released seven solo albums to date, including Storybook, an album of covers from other artists. Chambers has also produced two albums with her husband, fellow Australian singer-songwriter Shane Nicholson. After Nicholson and Chambers separated in 2013, Kasey changed direction with Bittersweet. Instead of her longtime producer, brother Nash Chambers, Kasey chose American Producer Nick Didea, partly upon Nash’s suggestion. Instead of her normally featured guitar, Kasey chose a banjo to back much of Bittersweet, and the result was her best album to date. Since my introduction to Kasey, when this album was released in the U.S., I have been catching up on her music. From country to rock to bluegrass, I have found much music to enjoy. In Australia, she’s a household name, and we shouldn’t be missing out on her music here in America.

What Kasey Brings to Country Music

I changed this section a little for Kasey because her music doesn’t get sent to radio in the States. In Australia, she’s had commercial success. So I want to focus on making Kasey Chambers fans here in the U.S. She’s known in Australia for her incredible voice. Like Ashley Monroe, when Kasey sings, you stop and listen. When I first heard “Oh Grace,” the opening track on Bittersweet, it was her voice that captured my attention. She has a raw quality when she sings. Her writing has the same raw honesty about it; often she discusses God and whether or not He is real and can indeed save us. I chose her quote above because this is the best explanation of the Kasey I know and love: she’s “real.” I don’t know a better way to explain it than this. Finally, whether you enjoy country, rock, or bluegrass, you will find a Kasey Chambers track you like–she truly has created an “evolution” of the country sound.

Tracks I Recommend

Since Kasey has so many albums, I recommend just listening and finding one you like. Instead of posting specific songs, I’ll link what I consider to be her best albums.

Bittersweet

Wreck and Ruin [with Shane Nicholson]

Wayward Angel

My Top Ten Country Songs (August 2015)

I wrote this list and then looked back and realized how female-dominated it was. This month brought good releases from Lindi Ortega, Maddie & Tae, and Whitney Rose, as well as my discovery of Kasey Chambers (her album actually came out at the end of July.) Kip Moore released some good music, but most of it was rock. I haven’t actually listened to Pat Green’s latest album, Home, yet, as it came out while I was traveling. The other albums I listened to were Luke Bryan’s train wreck Kill the Lights and Michael Ray’s forgettable debut–I didn’t even bother to review this. The result is an August list rife with females.

10. Kip Moore–“Comeback Kid”–His latest was
clearly a rock album, but this song was an honest and personal moment from Kip that I really enjoyed nonetheless.
9. Kasey Chambers–“House on a Hill”–I debated whether or not to include Kasey Chambers on this list because her album actually came out at the end of July, but I didn’t discover her till August, and without her, this list would look entirely different. This duet with her father, Bill Chambers, about an old house which is about to be torn down is just one of the standouts on her
fantastic album Bittersweet.
8. Whitney Rose–“The Devil Borrowed My Boots”–“The devil borrowed my boots last night” is the best excuse for bad behavior I’ve heard in a long time, and
Whitney Rose delivers this with the same enjoyment I have when listening.
7. Kasey Chambers–“Oh Grace”–A beautiful song featuring banjo and Kasey’s remarkable voice telling us the story, from his point of view, of a man with nothing to offer Grace except his life.
6. Lindi Ortega–“Half Moon”–A lyrically brilliant song in which Lindi reflects on the “half moon hanging in the sky” and later compares herself to it. It is
one that needs to be heard to fully appreciate.
5. Kasey Chambers–“Heaven or Hell”–Another lyrically brilliant song in which Chambers speculates on where we go when we die, calls out hypocrites, and later reflects on her own standing with God.
4. Kasey Chambers–“Too Late to Save Me”–This song about a prostitute coming to terms with her life and actions is my favorite on Kasey’s album. Featuring great instrumentation, honest songwriting, and up-front lyrics like “they call me late, they call me whore,” this song is a must-listen.
3. Maddie & Tae–“Shut Up and Fish”–I’m sure you all were wondering where Maddie & Tae were, and that’s because they made it so far down on the list.
“Shut Up and Fish” is an excellent song in which the girl gets tired of an overly clingy date and ultimately pushes him in the lake. Please let this be a single.
2. Lindi Ortega–“Ashes”–There are other songs on here that are better lyrically, but Lindi’s voice sells this and puts it so high on the list. Her voice soars through this heartbreak song perfectly, and not only is it the best song on Faded Gloryville, it’s my favorite Lindi Ortega song to date.
1. Maddie & Tae–“After the Storm Blows Through”–Lindi was at the top all month until this song blew “Ashes” out of the water. I originally wrote that I thought these ladies were singing to each other, but a commenter on another site wrote that this was written about Maddie’s friend, whose father passed away. This beautiful song of friendship features great country instrumentation and chilling harmonies. It’s another must-listen.

Honorable Mentions

  • Lindi Ortega’s “I Ain’t the Girl” and “Someday Soon”
  • Kip Moore’s “Come and Get It” (I actually love this song, but it’s not country, so it doesn’t qualify.)
  • Maddie & Tae’s “Waitin’ on a Plane” and “Smoke”
  • Whitney Rose’s “Heartbreaker of the Year”
  • Kasey Chambers and Bernard Fanning’s “Bittersweet”

I’d love to hear your favorite songs from August!

Album Review: Kasey Chambers–Bittersweet

Rating: 10/10

First of all, I want to give credit to Josh Schott of
Country Perspective
because until he reviewed this album yesterday, I had never listened to Kasey Chambers. I’d only heard the name and knew her to be an Australian country singer. Now, it says a lot about the quality of this album that after one day, I have listened to it and am here reviewing it. Kasey Chambers is a name you should know, and you can expect a future Female Friday fully devoted to her. But for now, let’s focus on her latest studio album, Bittersweet, which recently became available everywhere (Australia has had it since 2014.)

The album opens with “Oh Grace,” which almost exclusively features a banjo and Kasey’s remarkable voice. Here, Kasey sings as a man asking a woman, Grace, to marry him. He is poor and has nothing to offer her but love, but says that all he has is “yours for eternity, if I make you my wife.” It’s nice to hear a banjo used for good and not evil; rather than being a pop song with banjo added to pretend to be country, this is a country song where a banjo drives the beat. “Is God Real?” finds Kasey struggling with the question and deciding that she’ll pray to Him anyway. The concept of God is discussed throughout this album, and it’s refreshing and honest to hear, regardless of your views on the matter. “Wheelbarrow” is probably the most intriguing song on the album, and the bluesy instrumentation blends nicely with the lyrics and Chambers’s vocals to make it catchy. In this song, there is a whole new side of Chambers’s voice than the softer one presented on “Oh Grace,” and it’s hard to say which style suits her voice better.

“I Would Do” is a love song listing all the things Kasey would do for her man. I love the opening line: “Everybody plays the fool, I am no exception to the rule.” “Hell of a Way To Go” is a nice country rock song about dying of a broken heart. Next is “House on a Hill,” a beautiful song where Kasey sings with her father, fellow country singer Bill Chambers, about a house that is falling apart and about to be torn down. “It’s been through it all, and there’s cracks in the walls, they may as well just take me down too”–what a great line.

“Stalker” comes next, and after the darkness of “House on a Hill,” it works. It is a fun, upbeat song literally about being someone’s stalker. The lyrics can only be described as disturbing. On my first listen, it was extremely creepy. On my second listen, it was hilarious. I like to think Kasey put this on the album solely for shock value and/or to creep out everyone she knew–if your friend wrote this, you would sincerely hope it wasn’t meant for you. “Heaven or Hell” is one of my early favorites on the album; it deals with where we go when we die and also speaks to hypocrites, saying that our deeds will all come out one day. More excellent songwriting is present here–“Clever little liar with a righteous tongue, reputation to uphold. One of these days you’re gonna have to come out of the lies you’ve told.” The melody is catchy too, and the song is saved from being judgmental as well because she speaks to herself in the last verse, saying she’ll have to change her ways and “one of these days, you’re gonna have to get down on your knees and pray.” It’s like a Kacey Musgraves song but less confrontational.

“Bittersweet,” the album’s title track, is a duet with fellow Australian singer Bernard Fanning. Their voices work well together in this song as they speculate on their former love and whether they should get back together. I can’t say enough about the excellent songwriting on this album, and “Too Late To Save Me” gives us more of it. There is something so honest about a song that opens like this: “They hear me cry, they hear me roar, they call me late, they call me whore.” It’s a song about a prostitute trying to cope with her life and wondering if God can still save her. Again, the banjo drives the beat of this rocking song and the instrumentation goes well with the lyrics. “Christmas Day” is another song with a religious theme; here Kasey tells the story of Mary and Joseph from a more romantic perspective. It is less a Christmas song and more a country love song, and it works very well on the album. Bittersweet closes with “I’m Alive,” a bluegrass song where the banjo that backed many of the songs basically takes over. It’s a celebratory song that sees Kasey coming out on top and thankful to be alive after hard times. She mentions that she “drank like a bitch” and “made it through the hardest fucking year,” which again adds to the honesty of the album. I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard “whore” and “bitch” uttered in a country album, and there’s something very real about it that is missing in much of today’s country. I’m not saying you have to say things like that to be real, but their presence proves that what we’re hearing from Kasey Chambers is indeed real songwriting coming from her perspective rather than polished-up radio hits that tell us little more about the actual artist than that they want to sell records.

This is a fantastic album, and Kasey Chambers is a name you should be familiar with. She’s Australia’s hidden gem, and this album proves it. As I said earlier, it should tell you a lot about the quality of this music that I found time to review it within one day of ever listening to a Kasey Chambers song.

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