Totally Biased Fan Review – All Australian Girl – Tania Kernaghan

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In 1996, I bought an album called December Moon. It remains one of my favourites. I am just a year older than her brother Lee, (you may have heard of him) but I related most to Tania’s music. My connection with the Kernaghan clan went back a bit further, as I was raised in Tamworth. My Dad was a big fan of her Dad, Ray. Dad still has a Ray album with Ray standing in front of a big truck. (Vinyl of course).

My Dad has a soft spot for Fiona Kernaghan. Then of course, there is Greg. When it comes to the Kernaghans, it is a family business. Families who follow them will all have their favourites. Mine is Tania. The title of this album is appropriate. Tania has never sounded or appeared to be anything but Australian. There is no mistaking it and we are grateful for that.

I was really looking forward to this album. It has been far too long between albums.

Tania is very natural. She sings her songs without any effort, it all sounds like the songs are always part of her and she is part of the songs. There is no question that she is singing country music, it is as country as a dirt road and she is as Australian as a meat pie and sauce.

Sadly, being itunes, I don’t have the credits, but I heard that Stuie French produced it and that is clear on some of the songs, they have his touch.

The Songs are very Australian. They paint a picture of what life is like in a land down under…..particularly in the country areas.

 

The Songs:

That’s a Tradie: A fun salute to our tradies, a rare tribute to our working class men with tools in hand. This was released as a single. It has a Doug Bruce vibe about it with the melody. One to get out on the dance floor to.

Onto Something: A song about the simple things that you take for granted.

Happily Ever After: Definitely with the Stuie French touch, a little bit of Texas Swing, via Kickatinalong. Can only be an Aussie song with lyrics like: “a diamond ring and a coldie”.

All Australian Girl: An all Australian girl singing a song about an all Australian Girl…..girls, actually. If That’s a Tradie is a salute to our tradesmen, then this is a salute to all of the different types of Aussie girls who make up 50% of the population in this lucky country. I can hear this being played and sung along to at many gigs.

End of a Drought: My favourite song on the album. I heard this the other night and immediately loved it. This song is going to get a lot of spins from me. A familiar story, a beautiful song.

Kimberly Moon: The James Blundell song which is as Australian as you can get in lyrical content and it has the gentle Stuie French touch. Tania sings a song with James on his new album and it is a ripper. This cover fits in well with this album.

Homestead of my dreams: Tania’s songs often have an old fashion touch. This old Smoky Dawson song is a song which is given a slightly new fashion touch. You get the feeling sometimes that Tania was born too late, that she could have fitted in beautifully in the olden days. Hey, aren’t we glad that she was born in these days, though. This is just lovely.

Love’s gonna find you: Up on the dance floor! An uptempo number.

Little Cabin – One of my favourites on the album. Some beaut guitar and fiddle and a nice and easy, relaxing tune. Tan describes my perfect house.

Light in the Window – What Tan does best. A gentle, sweet song which showcases Tania’s vocals.

This album is one of life’s simple joys. It is not over complicated, the music is easy to sway to or to dance to or to just hum along to. Tania’s voice is as good as ever, her songs are easy to relate to and understand.

If you are not an Aussie, you may not get some of the nuances, just google them and you will understand pretty quickly. Beautifully produced, lovingly presented and sure to figure in the 2018 Golden Guitars.

A gem.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Campfire – James Blundell

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In 1989, James Blundell released a self titled album. Then came Hand it Down, then the album that did it for me: This Road. I bought it for my Dad for his birthday and it is still one of his favourites and mine. James’ ‘road’ has been colourful and full of road blocks and bends, hills and dips. However crazy the journey has been for James Blundell – personally and professionally – James is one of three country music artists who set up the new generation of country music in Australia. He made inroads and breakthroughs that other artists hadn’t made and he paved the way for many others.

James has two voices. On this album, he reverts to his first voice, (in my opinion, his best voice). In that way, James is also unique. He has one voice for certain songs and another one for other songs.

This is an album of mainly covers, but not necessarily ones that we would expect, with the exception, perhaps, of Take It Easy.

James and I are of a similar age, so the songs are very reflective of a certain era.  I very rarely review albums of mainly covers but curiosity got the better of me and I had to check it out. I met James in Tamworth many years ago with Anne Kirkpatrick (who appears on this album), at a Compass Bros gig. He was one of the most humble and sweet country music guys that I have met.

He started in the Country Music Industry officially, in 1987, which means that this is his 30th Anniversary Year. He has never been afraid to try different things and to do old things a new way and new things an old way.

 

The Tracks:

Money Changes Everything (With Bec Lavelle) – starts with Cyndi Lauper’s hit, which is almost unrecognisable with the James and Bec treatment. An interesting choice. It works.

Borderline Summertime (E) This song is written by James and featured previously on the Come on In album. It does have the f-bomb in it, hence the E, but it is randomly snuck in, I had to search for it!

6th Avenue Heartache (with Jonny Taylor) – The Wallflowers song (Bob Dylan’s son), has always been a good song. This is a pretty terrific version.

Rain on the Scarecrow (with The Wolfe Brothers) – A classic by John Cougar Mellencamp, so suited to James’ style and values. Love the fiddle.

Take It Easy (with Bec Lavelle) – The Eagles’ legendary song and an often covered song. James’ strong gravelly voice and Bec’s sweet as honey voice blend beautifully.

True Blue (with Tania Kernaghan) – not the True Blue that you may expect! Not the True Blue that anybody would have thought that would be sung by James and Tania! Madonna’s True Blue! It is awesome. Truly!

No Surrender (with Paul Costa) – The Bruce Springsteen song. These two should have sung together years ago. Probably close to my favourite song on the album. The boys sound like Country Bosses. One of my favourite Springsteen songs, so I was a bit hesitant, but it is wowsome.

Forty Miles to Saturday Night (with Cameron Daddo) – Paul Kelly is my favourite all-genre songwriter in Australia. When people sing his songs (with the exception of Kate Ceberano singing the Cake and the Candle), I am always bracing myself for the cringe, but this version rocks. Paul’s songs sometimes lend themselves to country treatment (he has done it himself and scored himself a few Golden Guitars). Cameron Daddo does a beaut job with James. I bet that they had a few beers and decided to put this together. You can tell that they had fun with it.

Breakfast at Sweethearts  – The Cold Chisel song that is almost an anthem for a generation of Australian teenagers (my generation). With my Tamworth Country ears as a kid, I often thought that it could be a country song….would have been even better if James had sung it with Jimmy.

Blowin’ In The Wind (with Anne Kirkpatrick, Liam Kennedy Clark and Abigail Grace) – A mellow way to round up the album. James has given a nod to Dylan on other albums, either obviously or subtly.

This is a surprising album. I was curious, and I am glad that I was. Three things attracted me to the album – I had seen James guesting at Tamworth a few times this year and he sounded like his old self. The songs on the album, though they were covers, were different to ones that people usually picked….very different in some cases! Finally, it was the calibre of the people who he was working with….and the diversity of those artists. Some legends, some up and coming stars.

This is an interesting album on several levels. With his anniversary year, I expect a few surprises from James. He is not one to charter one course, he has always offered us a smorgasbord. Take your pick. You may be surprised like I was.

Country music fans of my generation will always be grateful for James and the doors that he opened in a time when country music could have gone down the girgler in Australia, it began to thrive. Currently, I believe that the balance of young and old and in between and the 79 types of country music are at their best ever. It is largely due to those years in the late 80’s when James changed the scene.

And the title – Campfire? I don’t have the hard copy, so I am not sure of James’ reasons, but I would suggest that they are songs that folks think of to sing around a campfire – well people of James’ and my generation anyway. Songs that they might have thought – ‘well, why don’t we give this one a country feel’ in between the damper and the beer.

Enjoy.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Loaded – Christie Lamb

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Christie Lamb could probably choose any path in music. Her vocal abilities are quite extraordinary. She often crosses lines, so that to label her country is sometimes a bit of a misnomer. Even given the 79 types of country music, she steps outside of the boundaries a few times. If it was up to me, I would like to hear her sing more ballads. I personally think that this is where she excels. I know what you guys are thinking….Kaz loves ballads, and yes, I have a history for expressing that opinion, but Christie is truly way above average when she sings them.

I have to apologise from the outset if I have any of the songwriters’ names wrong. Even with my glasses on, I couldn’t make out a few of the names, so I am terribly sorry if I have them wrong. Two problems with old age, I like my songs slower and my print bigger. I do like to acknowledge the writers, however, for what is a singer without a song? (Yes, I quote that often, but it is true).

If you like your country music or music in general, rocky, then this is the album for you. There are a few notable exceptions which strangely enough (cough) are my favourites on the album. Christie has such a big, powerful voice that she is a joy to listen to with whatever she sings, but I do think that there are a few that stand out on this album and they do tend to be the slower songs.

The opening song is definitely still in the country rock category.  A guitar driven song and Christie’s vocals soar. Flamethrower is more bluesy. Magic has a good beat to it, but again more of the rockier vibe. I think that I detected a bit of a banjo sound tinkling in there, but it is a full on rock song – not that there is anything wrong with that, it will drive the purists a little nuts, though. Loaded is one of my favourites, it almost has that sixties guitar twang in there, then it picks up some speed. Ghost Gums is a hauntingly beautiful song which could easily fit into the Alt. Country field. A cousin of the murder ballad.  Probably my favourite on the album (no surprise) is Judgement Day. Christie’s vocals at their best. This song could top any chart in the world. Adele has nothing on our Christie. Absolutely awesome song. Lonely too long is a mixture of swamp music and something that Shania would have sung. Takedown is pure rock. Boomerang is a dance floor almost disco song….there was a similar sounding one in the late seventies. Stronger than you know is another one of my favourites – it is just a good song, it is a bit hard to categorise – a country rock power ballad? I think Dan Murphy better get his firemen ready around this album. First it was flamethrower and now Firebug. It is a toss up whether the last track on the album is my favourite or Judgement Day. I think the addition of the choir and the Reba-like quality to the song makes it number one. I get back up is a good one to finish the album with.

I think that Christie is about to head in a different direction with her music. She has made some hints and inroads here and compared to her other albums, this is definitely a different approach. It is a very good album, but whether it is strictly country or not, even the 79 types of country music may have been left behind. There are definitely some songs on this album worth a nomination for an award in the country field, but I think that Christie has a different future in mind.

Very few people in this country can sing like Christie. She is amongst a handful who can belt out a song the way that she does. I just think that her direction is changing. Not an album for those who go for torch and twang but if you just appreciate good music, then grab a copy.

 

 

The Songs:

Bad Habit  (Leah Turner, Molly Reed, Matthew Brownlee)

Flamethrower (Victoria Banks, Steve Pasch, Lindsay Rimes)

Magic ( Christie Lamb, Skip Black, Brian Maher)

Party’s Over ( Christie Lamb, Jonathan Sora-English, Phil Barton)

Loaded (Robert Ellis Orrall, Stephen Barker Liles, Stuart Walker, Jenna Walker)

Ghost Gums Sway (Christie Lamb, Jonathan Sora-English, Bill DiLuigi)

Judgement Day (Nancy Wendung Peacock, Lori Mullinix, Jon d’Agostino, Jason Eustice)

Lonely too long (Christie Lamb, Jonathan Sora-English, Bill DiLuigi)

Takedown  ( Christie Lamb, Jonathan Sora-English, Bill DiLuigi)

Boomerang ( Kelsea Ballerini, Ryan Richard Griffin, Jason Massey)

Stronger than you know (Christie Lamb, Jonathan Sora-English, Janelle Arthur)

Firebug  (Christie lamb, Jonathan Sora-English, Rob Ellis Orrall)

I get back up (Doc Holladay, Karen Staley)

The musos:

Drums: Brian Fullen

Guitars: Jeff King, Andrew Cochrane

Bass: Mark Peric, Andrew Cochrane

Keyboards and Synths: Anthony Martin, Nathan Seiler and Andrew Cochrane

Hammond: Nathan Seiler

Banjo, Steel Guitar and Dobro: Travis Toy

Backing Vocals: Christie Lamb, Jonathan Sora-English, Paul Cowderoy, Justin Dunford

I get back up – Brisbane Worship Centre Vocal Ensemble (Christy Hockey, Clint Devries, Julie Faulkner, Laurene Bisshop, Phoebe J Maxfield, Laura Pettersen, Jimmy Woo)

Programming: Andrew Cochrane and Brian Fullen

Produced by Andrew Cochrane

Mastered by Matthew Gray