Kasey Chambers has a unique trick. She has probably one of the most “country” voices in Australia, but she can toss this fairy dust over a song and make it appeal to all kinds of fans of country music and even fans outside the country music genre. It is a clever thing, that.
Kasey grew up in the middle of Australia around a lot of campfires. It is not a strange thing that she recorded this album, at all. I was kind of put in the mood for this album via another release, Jen Mize and Mark Sholtez’s Twilight on the Trail (see review). Though that is an album of classic cowboy songs, and this is an album of original songs, they both have a similar premise. They are songs that can be sung around a campfire. They are sung with a traditional country tone and a touch of Mexico here and there as well.
They could easily be companion pieces, though in many ways, they are different to each other. That is the beauty of country music, these days.
Something that people love most about Kasey is her sense of fun and her sense of family – though her family is perhaps unconventional in many ways. The simplicity in which she puts “featuring my Dad” on Little Chicken instead of putting “with Bill Chambers”, and the casual banter between some of the songs prove that tenfold.
I have always been of the belief that Kasey sounds her best when she is harmonizing or singing with others. That is not taking anything away with the sweetness of her voice in songs like The Fox and The Bird and previously the cleverness of Pony and Little Bird and many others. When you think of her work in The Dead Ringer Band , her duets with Beccy Cole, Shane Nicholson and others, including the work that she did on the Karl Broadie tribute, or one of my favourites, the duet that she did with Lucinda Williams – it seems, ironically, to be where her voice shines brightest.
The beautiful harmonizing on Go On Your Way, that makes you feel like that you are in a desert church or rowing a boat to an island in calm waters, or the warmth of The Campfire Song, or the absolute joy of Happy (one of my favourites) and the fun that she has with Bill on Little Chicken, she seems very much at home.
Orphan Heart is a little reminiscent of her work with Shane, I feel like that I am wading through a swamp with Daniel Boone or trudging across the desert with a Nomad, but in a good way.
The most amazing moment of this album, is the meeting of two Queens of Country. Emmylou Harris, for God’s sake! How cool, how fabulous. And the song, The Harvest and The Seed, is just awesome. It is the kind of song that you expect that Emmylou to sing.
Early Grave is one of those songs which has a tough storyline but it comes across as a sweet refrain.
There are a few E’s on this album, but they are a little subtle. One is said in the casual banter and on the incredible Abraham song, the f word is almost whispered in prayer.
Now that you’ve gone is probably the most up tempo song on the album.
You can hear all of these songs around the campfire, you can almost smell the smoke. They all have a traditional country sound though some have a modern twist.
This is an astonishing album. All of Kasey’s albums have a unique and special quality to them, but this is really up with her very best. The imagery is strong and sticks with you…Big Fish will definitely be a shower song.
Another hit for Kasey Chambers. Now where are those marshmallows?
The Campfire Song – featuring Alan Pigrim
Go On Your Way
The Harvest and The Seed (featuring Emmylou Harris)
Junkyard Man (E)
Now That You’ve Gone
This Little Chicken (Featuring my Dad)
Fox and the Bird
Happy (Feat. The Little Pilgrims)