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.