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Totally Biased Fan Review: Doug Bruce – Unsung: A tribute to the songs of Buddy Bruce

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Most people know that Dougie is one of my favourites. I am very grateful for the fact that he chose Australia to be his home (though I am sure that his lovely Aussie wife helped with that choice!) What most young artists in Australia are starting to realise is that the 90’s in America was probably one of the best times in country music, and a lot of them are drawing from these times and realising that people like Alan Jackson, George Strait, (both of who are ever present in Doug’s style), Randy, Travis, Reba, Trisha, Garth, Billy Dean, Clint, Vince, Mare, and many others are the cream of the crop in post 70’s Country Music.
Within your own family, you can often find a hero too. Someone who inspires you, guides you – from here or the hereafter – in this case, Doug has dipped his hat to his late uncle, Buddy. A promise is a promise, and Doug has delivered.
This is a wonderful “old school” collection of songs. Ably assisted by some of the best in Australia: Michel Rose, Stuie French, Rusty Cochrane, Vaughan Jones, Jacob McGuffie and Jenee Flenor, Doug presents a wonderful tribute to his uncle and to a genre of country music that should be honoured and replicated.
The songs:
Bad Weather: The stormy ride that love is….every type of weather review in this song….like Randy sang….The storms of life. A cool, twangy song.
Help the New Family Move in: quirky, guitar filled ditty. There goes the neighbourhood!
Nothin’ yet: Definitely a contender for the shower song of the year. Very catchy tune – different to the rest of the album but I really like it. It partly sounds like a 60’s song and partly like a ballad from the West. Unique.
The Tears: The single. I can see why. It is a very commercial, Tamworth, catchy ditty. Anything with beer and swinging doors and heartache will prove fruitful! Lots of great guitar work, as you would expect from this mob.
Lie to Me: One of my faves on the album. Love sad songs and ballads and this is both. It has that nice steady brush stroke drum beat and it is absolute torch and twang. Reminds me of Don Williams or Charlie Rich. Bravo.
Greatest Expert: A bit of the old Texas Swing to start off and a bit of the old Bar Room Blues. It probably should be my theme song….well, the female version, at least. Pure country.
Change your tune: Old cowboy meets new age chick – probably won’t work….but the character in this song lives in hope. Great twanging boys.
I get worried: My first thought was of a song that Paul Costa sings called What else could go right. Totally different songs but with a similar message. Very country and an anthem for Sceptics. Cool song.
My baby’s coming home: Another cool very country song. Reminds me very much of Alan Jackson in this one….and that ain’t a bad thing. Sweet song but also funny – cleaning up duties on.
If Heartaches were contagious: Funny and sad at the same time – black comedy, perhaps! Clever words and some cool guitar licks. You can detect Stuie’s touch on this one.
Whistle up some happiness: I thought that Roger Miller was back from the hereafter. In fact a lot of the songs have a similar feel to what Roger or Ray Stevens would produce. This could be another shower song. I hope that the neighbours are prepared for my whistling.
Night before the morning after Game: This is a good song to end with. It is a bit Tom T Hallish, mixed with Kris, Roger and Ray. Most of us have lived this song in one way or the other. It is a storytelling song. Adam Harvey could drop in at any moment too.
Doug’s own songs have elements of the above. I gather that he did the arrangements and worked some things out with Stuie and co. Thank you Buddy for being an inspiration and an influence on Dougie. Hopefully you are looking down from where you are at and see what a fine legacy you have left Doug and us.

These songs may have been unsung before, but they are certainly sung now.
Nothing like a bit of torch and twang on a Sunday Morning. Church is in.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Albany (LP) – Jo Caseley (with reference to previous review on EP which contains: Albany, Dreamin’ Bout the River, The Baby’s Cry, I think I’m losing it, Can’t Keep my panties on which are on the new album too)

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This is a slightly different review! I have never bought an EP then an album that have some of the same tracks on (unless they are greatest hits albums of course!). So, to avoid an onion run (repeat), I will include my previous review of Jo’s EP. One of the tracks on there, Dusty Dirt Track is not on this album, but it is on the previous Jo album, called Dusty Dirt Track! (Just to complicate things!).
Whatever the order, everything is contained here.

The tracks:
Ain’t Love the Sweetest Thing: A happy little ditty to start off the album. A catchy little song that you can clap along to and tap your feet to. A nice way to begin. It also shows off Jo’s multi octave vocals.
Albany: see attached review.
Dreamin’ Bout the River: see attached review.
Baby Don’t you love me: Yee Ha! Let’s have a hoedown. I just danced around the flat….sorry neighbours. Emmylou and Dolly would sing along to this one. A few laughs too…maybe slightly M rated when it isn’t Em rated!
The Cattle Truck: Brought back a few memories back for me. Considering that if I had been a boy, my dad was going to call me Lorrie after a cattle truck, and that I spent a lot of my youth accompanying my Dad to cattle sales and on a cushion on top of the motor seat in a baker’s van with my Dad. A lovely nostalgic tribute.
Can’t Keep my Panties on: see attached review.
The Baby’s Cry: See attached review.
I think I’m Losing it: see attached review.
Sonny Boy: A soulful, bluesy tune. Late night supper club, or a song to listen to when you are swinging on branch near a river. You will understand what I mean when you listen to it. It goes from gentle bluesy to jazz, to scat. Libby O’Donovan would love this.
Come Home: From the opening bars, it sounds like it should come from a soundtrack. A sad song with a sad tune. Unfortunately, this is a song about something that happens way too often in our world. It will hit home for many people listening to it. Important song, delivered with great emotion. Made me cry.
Keep the Wolves from the door: More of an uptempo track to see the album out. The leg drums were out and I used them. Rocky, bluesy track, showing Jo’s versatility.
Totally Biased Fan Review: Self titled EP – Jo Caseley (January 2015)

How dumb am I? I had only heard Jo’s name before, and a lot of my friends said that I have to check her music out because it was right up my dusty road….and it is. I found out that she was appearing with two of my fave (and crazy) guys at the Songwriters in the Round and warned her quietly that she should be on guard. I needn’t have worried. The girl not only held her own in the humour stakes and in the battle of the sexes, but also musically, totally wowing Mr O’Shea and Mr Bryers and the crowd.
In an amazing deal, I picked up Jo’s album and her new EP for $20, which is just crazy. I am reviewing the EP here because it is the latest offering.
Albany – When Jo sang this at the Servies, Luke O’Shea nearly fell of his chair. A subject close to his heart and to all of us Aussies, especially in this year of remembering 1915. Awesome.
Dreamin’ Bout the River – Love all songs about rivers….this one had me from the title.
The Baby’s Cry – this song means more when you hear the story behind it. This is from Jo’s Ancestory. Awesome song, sad story.
I think I’m losing it – Jo described this song as Baby Brain. I think that many will relate to this, or senior moments as people of my age would admit to. We all have these moments….lots of fun.
Can’t Keep My Panties On – Probably the funniest moment of the TCMF was when Jo sang this. Lukie and Michael lost it, totally and Jo did too. The song is based on a friend’s predicament, though I don’t think that Luke bought the ‘friend’ idea. Crack up song.
Dusty Dirt Track – the title of her album too. Very country, very me. Fab song.

Next time that I see Jo Caseley’s name up somewhere, I am running to get tickets, will spread the word, this young lady is unbelievable. I can’t wait to play the album too. Probably my nicest surprise of the Country Music Festival. Checked my beloved dictionary and there are not enough words to describe my happiness about this music. There is probably another great reason for this EP’s success. It was in the magical hands of Bill Chambers. Says everything, really.
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Jo Caseley is one of our best talents. I think that she has the most amazing voice which varies from style to style and sometimes verse to verse. She has a great personality on stage and she sells a song to an audience (Beccy Cole style) whether it is funny, a bit naughty, bluesy, sad, poignant, or any other variable that you want to throw in. Her songs are songs which you can relate to. She is not one to pull punches or rest on her laurels. Look out for Jo. She is a one off, and thank God for that. We see enough clones.

P.S. Jo confirmed for me that the EP was a special offer at Tamworth. It did offer me a preview of what was to come. I hope that my double edged review is not too confusing!

Totally Biased Fan Review: Small Town, Big Shot – Fanny Lumsden

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I had the pleasure and privilege of seeing and hearing Fanny at two gigs last year. I had heard rumours that she was pretty bloody fabulous, but I did not realise how much those rumours were going to ring true. To be honest, though I was going to be pleased to finally hear her at those gigs, she was not the main reason that I was going to either. There were other acts on the schedule that I was chiefly going to see and hear. Sometimes the advice of others isn’t always the suit that fits me, but this time they were spot on. I think that my friends are getting to know my taste.
As I have said before, there are disadvantages to downloading on Itunes – no credits, liner notes and you have to doubt if the artist is getting their dues. I also like the solid article. I am pretty sure that Fanny wrote all of the songs, or at least had a co-writer’s hand in them. The sound on my iphone is not what it is on my stereo either!
Having said all of that, it is instant, and I don’t have to wait impatiently by a mailbox or wait til I go to a gig or festival to buy my obscure taste in music album.
I picked up a few bits and pieces off the internet, things that make sense after listening to the songs and knowing who she supported in gigs. Matt Fell (Kazzie Award producer of the year, last year) produced the album, and she is from a little place near West Wyalong which explains why our thoughts about the country are on a similar plateaux.
With a mixture of country and folk in both her vocals and the songs themselves, this extremely easy listening album is the kind of stuff that is starting to be recognised by more than us simple country folk (not that there is anything wrong with us).
Country music is in a very healthy position in Australia at the moment, with so many wonderful songwriters emerging in this genre and proving to be much better quality than mainstream fodder.
One reviewer noted that she sings about the country of today, rather than yesterday. I see and hear that, but there is a nostalgic undertone and a simple, relaxing quality to Fanny’s music that take me back.
Sorry for the late review!
The songs:
Bravest of Hearts: Fanny’s Celtic/Folk vocals are pure and honest in this depiction of country life and all that goes with it.
Soapbox: Clap your hands and accept your lot in life…good times and bad. Meaningful clichés aplenty.
Small Town Big Shot: The title track. Every small town has at least one of these. You probably know one.
Land of Gold: This is a bit of a right or left at Oak Street song. Options about the road and home….
Weatherman: I have listened to this song a few times and I have a few theories about it. You can just let it go and tap your toes to it or look for the deeper meanings in the words. I have a few ideas what it is about, but chances are that I am way off. Maybe you should just let the Weatherman wash over you and keep you warm.
Totem Tennis: Nine out of ten kids had this game when I was a kid, or the cheaper version of a brick, elastic and a tennis ball with a bit of wood to bash it with. Musically, there is a great guitar riff in this track. I guess it has nostalgic moments about it and a reflection on simpler times while you work out the big stuff. A lot of Fanny’s songs are open to interpretation. I may be way off base.
Rattle & Your Roll: One of my favourite songs on the album. As with many of Fanny’s songs, you can just drift along or you can dig for meaning. Either way, it is a cool song.
Sea Elephant School: This sounds like some ancient Celtic lesson. Freud would have a field day with this one. To be honest, I am not sure what it is about, but maybe I am trying too hard. Maybe, just one to kick back to and enjoy the Irish lilt and the splendid vocals.
Choose You: Another one of my favourites. A love song….simple and sweet.
Bastards: The reason why there is a little letter on the album. It always amuses me. All over social media, in books, newspapers, magazines and the movies there is much worse said, but use a good old Aussie expression like Bastards and it gets a warning. A song about fighting the good fight.
Sunstate: A country song about a country place. What it is like to be born and raised in the country. A nice gentle way to finish the album.
Fanny has a stage presence that will mark her as an entertainer as well as a singer and songwriter. She knows how to sell her songs and those of others. We will hear more and more over the years about Fanny, if Fanny wants it badly enough.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Cold Trail – Bill Chambers

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The words “great” and “legend” are bandied about way too often in the music world. There are only a small percentage of truly great musicians and songs and even less that fit into the legend category. Without a solitary doubt in the world, Bill Chambers is an Aussie music Great. Not only has he produced (with a lot of help from his former wife, Di), two of the best in Kasey and Nash Chambers, and he was the Captain of The Dead Ringer Band, but as a solo artist and a mentor for many, he is a leader in a pretty impressive pack of Australian Country musicians.
Sometimes, it is easy to forget that Bill has done a lot of solo work. He always seems to be part of a band or supporting someone else. He seems to have the gift (like Stuie French and Lawrie Minson), to be able to pick up an instrument and play a song pretty well straight away that he hasn’t played before or that he isn’t too familiar with. Having that broad perspective with him, and the influences that are clearly guiding his music, the product of an album such as Cold Trail will appeal to a wide audience.
This is an album for lazy Sunday afternoons, late night down times and driving along a country road. If you mix country, blues, bluegrass and folk into a pot, then you will get this. It is not all mellow, Bill has a great ability to wake you up with an opinion after he has lulled you into a contented state. There ain’t nothing wrong with that.
In some of the songs, you feel that two gunfighters have come to town to have a shoot out on main street, Tombstone. On others, you are rollicking down a road in a getaway car. There are drinking songs and love songs and lots of road songs. There are more black hat songs than white hat songs. There are some familiar songs, like Nothing but the wheel and classically country named songs like I’d go home if I had one. It wouldn’t be a Bill Chambers’ album if it didn’t have a reference to Hank Williams, and this one has a large dose of that in Hank’s last meal. Drinkin’ too much is a wonderful duet with some terrific lines. The Road Tonight is one of my favourites, a gently rambling song that is easy to mellow out to. Too Confused is a Clayton’s train song that takes you to places that are like Memphis and Hell at the same time. Guitars are on fire in that song. Always believe in you is another favourite. It is definitely Sunday afternoon listening. Mercy has enough torch and twang to melt even the hardest of hearts. If that song ain’t country, then I don’t know what is.
The most ironic song on the album is Quindanning Inn. I googled the place and the review for it and the town in Western Australia has the opposite description from what Bill gives it, but that may be to attract visitors and it may be written with rose coloured glasses on. Either way, it is an interesting song.
Not surprisingly, the guitar work on this album is second to none, in whatever mood the guitars are in. As an Itunes download, I don’t have the credits, but every song is polished and pure country. It will be on repeat many times and it gets better with each play. Bill has done it again, and I am not surprised. I knew that I would love this album before I played it.