Tag Archives: Country Perspective

Thank You Country Perspective

If you haven’t heard yet, Josh of Country Perspective announced yesterday via Twitter that the blog’s hiatus would probably be permanent. I acknowledged it on Twitter, but it wasn’t nearly all I wanted to say.

Country Perspective, and Josh and Derek, helped make this possible for me. When I was all but converted to a pop fan in late 2014 and early 2015, I found that blog and started hearing names like Jason Eady, Courtney Patton, Lindi Ortega…I could go on, but they are part of the reason I came back to country in the first place. When I grew passionate about doing this myself and started this blog in June 2015, they encouraged me. Josh and I didn’t always agree, but that was fine; when I posted a piece about genre lines in response and somewhat rebuttal to one of his, he posted it on Twitter, of all things. He was good like that, encouraging discussion and differences of opinion. Even if we differed somewhat in opinion, he was good at fostering that, and that’s something that not all blogs and writers strive for. He inspired me in a lot of ways, but that one has affected me the most.

Josh and Derek still continued to introduce me to music even after I started writing, indeed right up to the hiatus of Country Perspective. In addition to the artists I mentioned, I have them to thank for Kasey chambers, Sam Outlaw, and probably others I’m forgetting. They were both passionate about music and writing, and Josh, I can understand how that passion didn’t translate into running a blog. But thank you for sharing that passion with all of us.

Lastly, I want to thank Josh in particular, and this is a bit of a personal thing. He cared so much about his readers, and for me, that meant even more than it probably did to most. I remember asking on occasion what pictures or iTunes reviews said on his posts because my screen reader couldn’t read them. I remember him describing them; it got to where commenters would do that too, but it started with Josh. at one time, he had a podcast and said he would consider putting it on iTunes if that were more accessible than SoundCloud. I was one of his readers; yes, he may have, and probably did have, other blind readers, but because of one he listened. That’s not something you find everywhere, particularly with someone who has so many readers and commenters, and I am grateful for that.

So it makes me sad to say this, but for now, this is farewell to Country Perspective. Thanks for what you did for all of us. You will be missed.

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.

Listen to Album

Random Thoughts of the Week: Introducing the “Tomatoes”

I gave this the name “random thoughts” because basically that’s what you will find here. Think of the music version of a daily or weekly sports column with some news and/or opinions along with several random bits of information. Country Perspective has a similar Thursday column called “The Hodgepodge” and it is one of my favorite things to read from them, so I wanted to start something similar on my own blog.

One of the most irritating things for me in the wake of #SaladGate is the comment/defense that Keith Hill was merely stating facts of the music business right now. To be clear, country radio has far more problems than the lack of airplay for women. There is quality music being made by both men and women that is not getting the airplay it deserves, but I am truly tired of hearing, “Well, there really aren’t that many women right now,” or “he was just stating facts,” or the most infuriating, “of course that’s the statistic, how can you play women when there aren’t any?”

The thing is, my music collection is filled with women. There are plenty of great women artists, both mainstream and independent, but most casual listeners don’t know any names besides Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, or maybe Kacey Musgraves and Kelsea Ballerini now, but that’s being optimistic. A large part of this is that radio doesn’t play these women, and so people assume they don’t exist.

People should know the “tomatoes” of the country world. Whether you like their music or not, they should at least have a chance to be heard, and so I will be featuring a woman on this site every Friday to help with this problem. Personal preference will not be taken into account–I hate Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, but I got the chance to decide that because I heard them. So although I will comment on my personal preference, my main focus here is to fix this problem of people thinking there aren’t any women out there to fill the country airwaves.

Tomato of the Week: Katie Armiger

In light of her recent feud with her long-time label, Cold River Records, Katie is the first, and one of my favorite, underappreciated tomatoes. Check out her full article on Female Friday!

Random Country Suggestion: Shannon Brown

This song came on my iPhone on Shuffle, and I went to see what else she did (turns out nothing) and ended up buying this whole album.

Random Non-Country Suggestion: Selena Gomez–“The Heart Wants What it Wants”

I love country, but I like a little of everything else too, and I truly love this song. I have this version and a cover by our featured female–both are great.

That’s all for this week’s Random Thoughts!