Totally Biased Fan Review – 50 Years in Oz – Allan Caswell

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Most people that read my posts on Facebook and who read my reviews on here and my former blog A Country Hattitude (see side column) know that I have a lot of respect for Allan Caswell and all that he has done for Australian Country Music and in turn, all of the wonderful young and not so young artists that he has mentored. We have sparred a few times over certain musicians and more regularly over football (in all codes). With his dear wife as our referee, we have managed to go back to our corners and we have turned up as mates again. Basically, our connection is through our passion for music: Allan in his role as a mentor, musician and prolific songwriter, my role as a fan and someone who supports country music through all of its ups and downs.

Allan’s longevity in a sometimes tough, sometimes fickle business deserves to be applauded and celebrated. His courage to fight the good fight, saying what he wants to say and what we need to hear in his songs is something that makes the most genuine Aussies proud. He writes with conviction, never backing down and never giving up. As with most people who say what they think and feel, he will always have his knockers, but you have to have people in the world who are wrong to highlight the people who are just plain bloody right.

I have said this before, but truth needs repetition. It is rare to find a country music album in Australia that doesn’t have a song co-written by Allan Caswell or Mike Carr on it. These two guys have led the way for modern songwriters, encouraging them to be the future mentors to again pay it forward.

Allan has a vast collection of Golden Guitars and a thousand of other awards. He has released more albums than most and each one of them a guaranteed winner. The biggest gift that Allan has given us is the ability to bring out the best in all of the musicians that he has worked with and all of the songs that we can relate to, from beer songs to love songs, to the songs of the road and the land that we all love, whether we are born here or whether we come from another place.

His music is loved by many generations, whether it is one of his kids’ songs played on Play School, or that Television theme song that everyone in Australia knows and even overseas…..You don’t have to be a country music fan to love and know his music…..but it helps.

The Songs:

50 Years in Oz: Mr Corbett’s influence on the melody here, very Bushwackery. The words are all Allan, his story, his passions, his life. Says it all, really.

Back when we had nothing: The strongest ingredient to any Allan Caswell song is the lyrics. The way that he rhymes words, whether it be a simple rhyme or a complicated one is something that very few artists can do as well. The places that he takes you to, even if it is his story, are familiar and as plain as day. Wonderful song.

Golden Days (featuring The Weeping Willows): I am going to be extremely biased on this one. The Weeping Willows are probably my favourite Australian act at the moment and they are becoming good mates. The fact that they combine here with one of my favourite songwriters makes this song a bigger gem. Golden voices, golden strings and golden words.

 

Mercy of the Road: I don’t have the credits, given that Itunes don’t provide them but there is a touch of Luke O’Shea about this one. In any case, it is a great song. The road songs are a part of a country musician’s repertoire. If they aren’t, they should be.

Red Roo Roadhouse: Talking about road songs…..I have a funny feeling that this is a Slim Dusty song, I may be wrong. It has an Allan Caswell feel but it seems vaguely familiar. Either way, two great Aussie guys of song. Makes you crave for an all day breakfast.

Hero Just The Same: A song about an unsung hero. In this case, it is the rodeo clown that makes the rodeo rider look good, saves his life and makes sure that all goes smoothly. They get very little credit. Excellent song, my Dad is going to eat this one up.

A Truckie Up in Queensland: Could really be a Truckie anywhere in Australia, really. A truckie’s life is a tough one and they are unsung heroes too. An extremely Australian song.

Nothing Left for Them: The single recently released and a very relevant song. I have travelled a lot of this country by train and bus. It is happening everywhere and it is a very sad situation. It is something that we are all worried about, not just for us but for future generations. If you are not worried about it, if you don’t do something about it, then you should try.

Lefty O’Reilly: Sounds like Lefty came out on the right side. A fading race of species, I am afraid. Another one that my Dad will love, he is from that generation and he is a lefty.

Sweet By and By: Yee Haa! A bit of Green and Gold Bluegrass. Not the song that you may expect, but related. Catchy and sweet with a bit of a history lesson.

His Old Piano: This is my favourite on the album. Love it to bits. Bring out the tissue box. If the words don’t make you cry, the melody will.

I hope that there are many more years of Allan Caswell and Allan Caswell music. We still have a few fights to fight together and a few more sparring rounds to go between us. Cheers mate on a great career and a great life.

N.B. Just a footnote. Have found out since I published this that the credits were pretty close! I don’t know how I missed Lachlan Bryan as a co-writer on the first track! 2. with Max T Barnes (He wrote a lot of Randy Travis songs). 3. I kind of said it, the co writer was Andrew Wrigglesworth (The Black Wiggle) from The Weeping Willows. 4. Fred Koller who has written lots of songs in Nashville. 5. It was a Slim song, written by Allan! 6. Billy Bridge co wrote this awesome song. 7 and 9, Manfred Vijars, who has written some other Bush Ballads with Allan. 8. Marian Caswell (as I suspected!), 10, My dear pal, Nia Robertson co wrote this. The big surprise was 11. Allan wrote this with 7 others! K Thomsen, S. Ghee, P. Dawson, M Nolan, K Gall, W Nielsen and S Maddison.

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Totally Biased Fan Review: Sweet Dreams ‘til Morning – Kylie Adams-Collier

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This little pocket dynamo made us all exhausted just watching her energy and vitality on stage at Hats Off. With signature red flower in her hair, pure country voice and a mixture of folk and country flavour through her songs and stories, you can’t help but feel for the songs that she sings and rejoice in her simple candour.

The Songs:

I can’t help it if I’m still in love with you – Hank Williams – Every fair dinkum country music singer does a Hank song somewhere in their career, or at the very least, they know one. A good choice, one of my favourites.

When loved ones are near – Kylie Adams-Collier – Kylie is not just a bundle of energy, she seems to me to be a little spiritual, probably the Bellingen coming out in her. This song says it all, really.

Crying Time – Buck Owens – Probably one of the most sung country songs ever, and one of the most respected songwriters in Buck Owens. Most folks that love country music can sing along to this one. The guitar work in this song usually sound like they are on the verge of crying too.

I wanna live on a farm: Kylie Adams-Collier – Don’t we all? A pure country voice singing a pure country song.

Don’t Fence Me In: Cole Porter/Robert Fletcher – An oldie but a goodie. I am sure when Cole Porter wrote songs he never thought that one of the most enduring would be a country song but most people know this one, even today. It is a good one for around the campfire.

Sweet dreams ‘til morning – Kylie Adams-Collier – The title song and one full of imagery. A touch of the Judith Durham on here.

Careless Love: Spencer Williams and Martha E Koenig – A lot of people have sung this, most memorably for me, Lena Horne and Fats Domino! So many different kinds of artists and it is a beauty.

Dream a Little Dream of Me: – Wilbur Schwandt and Fabian Andre – One of my fave singers of all time, Mama Cass made this her own. If there ever was a version to compete with it, it is this one. Wonderful job, Kylie.

Come on and dance with me – Kylie Adams-Collier – This will go down well in old village halls and anywhere where they want to dance old time style. I can’t dance to save myself, but I was tempted to do a twirl in my living room.

Waiting for heaven to rain – Kylie Adams-Collier – The first strains of this song sounded like we were being transported to Mexico. I looked over my shoulder to check and see if there was a guy in a sombrero.  Justin Standley features on this song and does a great job.

Goodbye Dear Tamworth – Kylie Adams-Collier – People always have me at the title if they put Tamworth in it, being an old Tamworth native. Then if they throw in all of the familiar sights and sounds – including the sign mentioned in the song, they can’t go wrong.

Goodnight dear dad goodnight – Kylie Adams-Collier – This album is dedicated to Kylie’s Dad, so it is not a surprise when she does a song salute to him. Lovely song and a great way to wind things up.

The beauty of country music is that it is full of so many different styles. Kylie touches on a few on this album but basically it is country music in its most pure and simple form.

The musicians on this album enrich its simple beauty. Bob Howe, Allan Tomkins, Tomi Graso and Andrew Clermont to name a few. Produced by Gary Brown and mastered by one of my favourites, Herm Kovak, it is a nostalgic, peaceful, tender tribute.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Beautiful Life – Becci Nethery

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The wonderful thing about country music these days is that it is a forum for all ages. Once upon a time, only a certain generation entered the country music world in this country and therefore, for years, we only had a certain type of country music and a certain age restriction that made some of us wonder if there was a future for country music. Then, children of legends started to play and in some cases, grandchildren of these legends and therefore, new generations not only started writing country music and played it but they also started to listen to it. Word spread that country music was becoming 79 different types rather than one and people from all walks of life started to embrace it.

We still have a ways to go in spreading the beautiful gospel of country music in Australia, but we are making significant inroads. Becci Nethery is one of the younger generation who is destined to spread the word….and the music.

Beautiful Life is a mixture of originals and other contemporary country songs. You will know the songwriters, you will know some of the people who sing them, but they are not overdone big hits, they are songs that are good songs that haven’t necessarily got big time airplay, at least not in Australia.

The Songs:

Your Hand Slips into Mine: (Becci Nethery) – One of the songs from Hats Off this year that stuck in my head. Thankfully, I got to see Becci a few times over the weekend and heard this more than once. It is obviously autobiographical, and I can relate being a country gal who went to the big city at about the same age. Wonderful song, undeniably country and deserving of a lot of airplay.

In The Middle of This: (Jon Henderson/George Ducas/Mallary Hope) – A little bit more up tempo, but still country! Written by some of the most prolific songwriters in Texas and Nashville.

Spread a little love around (Harley Allen/John Wayne Wiggins) An easy on the toes and ears song. Very hummable as most Harley Allen songs are. Some cool piano in this too. Suits Becci’s voice very well, made for her, actually.

Here I Go: (Becci Nethery) – If the opening song to the album is the positive side, then this is the negative side to the same story. Becci made a comment about writing sad songs. Keep doing that, Becci. The best country songs are sad songs.

Lead On: (Tia Sillers/Mark Selby/Tania Hancherhoff) – Husband and wife team Tia and Mark have written some beauties and this is no exception.

Beautiful Life – (Nicky Chinn/Frank Myers/Gary Baker) – A bright happy song, a good one for the road or dancing around a paddock to!

I Dream He Dreams of Me – (Rick Karg/Andy Karg/Don Schlitz) – A beautiful song, love the musicianship on this. I think that Kirsty Lee Akers sings this too. One of the best songs on the album, lyrically, musically and sung with great emotion. These songwriters never put a foot wrong.

A little more us – (Danny Orton/Jim Collins) – A very catchy song. Tapping toes, shifting shoulders, some nice guitar licks.

Can’t Just Kiss You – (Jennifer Schott/Byron Hill) – Cindy Standage did a version of this. It is a terrific country song with the right balance of torch and twang. Good choice for Becci’s voice. Cool song. I love the key changes.

Bring it On – (Rachel Bradshaw) – Good way to end the album, and no doubt words that are a cool omen for the future of Becci Nethery. Go girl.

This is only the beginning for Becci. After all, how many great Rebeccas, Beccys, Becs, Beckys and Becci’s are there in country music? She’s got a good start, right there! Seriously, though, once her song writing evolves a little more and she gets more of a chance to develop her own voice and stories, the world is not only her oyster, but a whole seafood market.

Produced and Engineered by Greg Williams

Recorded and mixed at Tamworth Recording Suite

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Travellin’ by John ‘K’ Krsulja

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I was always going to buy this album and fully intended to when I went to The Dag for the final farewell for Karl Broadie. I was going to ask Johnny K, and then lo and behold, there is a copy of this album and Karl and Aleyce’s albums at our tables as a thank you.

I have copies of the other two and have done reviews on “Believe” and “a side, b side, seaside”. (Please refer to these on the A Country Hattitude blog). I was thrilled to get a copy of this album. The least that I can do is review it, the most that I can do is listen to it over and over again.

I heard Johnny K sing a while ago now, and knew straight away that this was my kinda music. The years that he has provided an inspirational playground for a multitude of songwriters, have obviously been a gift for him as well and in turn for us. The obvious influences are from the likes of Luke O’Shea, Lachlan Bryan and our dear Karl Broadie. With a voice that encompasses all three of their styles and a touch of Nick Cave, Ed Kuepper, Kevin Bennett and Leonard Cohen, it is hard to go wrong. Mr Dylan is in there somewhere too. Esteemed company there, and Mr K holds his own.

The songs are a mixture of folk, ballads and blues. He has a voice that suits all three.

 

The Songs:

The Busker: (Johnny K/Karl Broadie) – Pretty self-explanatory. Cool beat and a song from a satisfied man, singing his songs. Easy to sing a long to and to tap the old feet to.

Common Ground: (Johnny K/Karl Broadie) – Some nifty guitar work and harmonica. Friendship, love, working on just getting through.

Old Man’s Shed: (Johnny K/Luke O’Shea) – Luke has this on his album too. Same words, slightly different arrangement, same sentiment. It is a cool song in either version. Something that we can all relate to…we all have a dad, grandad, uncle, brother, cousin like this.

In A Heartbeat: (Johnny K/ Luke O’Shea/Lachlan Bryan/Kerrie Garside) – with Katie Brianna – One of the best songs on the album, not just because of the pedigree and quality of the writers, but because of the beautiful addition of Katie Brianna. The voices blend amazingly together, though total opposites. Reminds me of the Nick Cave/Leonard Cohen touch and Mr Bryan is a strong influence here…his dark veil thrown over a lushly produced piece of music.

Jessie: (Johnny K/Karl Broadie) – Love, loss, sadness – the blues – the stuff that makes the best songs, better.

Hopeless (Johnny K) – Another one of my favourites on the album. I heard Johnny K sing this a while ago, and it was the song that made me think that there was something there to keep an eye and an ear on. It even has some twang in it.

Such is Life ( Johnny K) – Subtle and not so subtle reference to a certain infamous bushranger. Anything that is remotely about Ned Kelly is always a magnet for me, after all he was my grandmother’s second cousin. The music has you perched on a horse and riding with the gang. Awesome song.

All The Same ( Johnny K): Hummable, easy going tune with a message that is not exactly as crystal clear as the title.

Travellin’ Man (Johnny K/ Karl Broadie): There are lots of travelling songs. A musician’s life is probably one of those that know roads well travelled more than others. We are all on a journey of some sort, some of us find things faster than others. Catchy song with a simple story.

Six Shots of Regret (Johnny K): I thought that this song may have been inspired by The Shawshank Redemption…..or an interpretation of it. It has some familiar nuances. The beat will be in your head for a while.

Billy (Johnny K/ Karl Broadie): This is a song that you will be humming long after it finishes. It could well be my next shower song. Catchy chorus and some nice bv’s.

Life is Loving Me ( Johnny K): A nice twist on the lyrics. A tribute to Johnny’s life. Hail the simple life.

My Last Goodbye (Johnny K): Awesome song to finish the album on. I am not going to say much, just listen to the words (as another wise man once wrote) and take it in.

Some lovely backing vocals throughout the album from Hayley Wilson and Katrina Burgoyne in particular. Another nod to Karl Broadie as producer, piano player on In a Heartbeat and even a little photography as well as many co-writes.

I hope that this is just a beginning, Johnny K.