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Issue: September 2011

Back in Form

Give Me a Reason (Independent)
Kasey Chambers

Kasey Chambers is a bonafide, award-winning recording star in her native Australia, with five platinum albums since 1999. Here in America, she is mostly an afterthought. That's probably America's loss, especially if her latest album, Little Bird, comes into the conversation.

Chambers, who grew up in the Australian outback while her parents made a living for the family selling pelts, is one of those rare singers who can make a song a hit simply by singing it with her lilting, crackling pitch. And while her last true solo release, 2006's Carnival, may have been the weakest albeit still platinum-selling effort of her career, she has bounced back wonderfully with Little Bird.

Her definitive song is "Not Pretty Enough," from 2001's Barricades & Brickwalls, and while equaling that success would be a lofty goal, she comes close with the new title track. "Little Bird" is perhaps the most gentle-natured kiss-off song ever written in it she recounts the things she could do to change herself to ensure that the object of the song "might come back." The payoff comes in the chorus when she announces, "But I don't want you that bad." Ouch.

It's a strong single, and the instrumentation and production leave plenty of room for her unique voice to shine through to its fullest. This point should be noted by producers of many prominent American artists music gets so over-compressed and over-tracked these days, that it seems all the dynamics, the room that makes it sound "real," get lost.

"Beautiful Mess" is another standout, even if it is a bit more commercial sounding, while "Someone Like Me" is classic Chambers insomuch as it reveals her at her effusive, vulnerable songwriting best. Chambers' signature is simple but effective she is emotionally honest in her songs. The tunes she writes can at times be a tad cheesey, but they never come across as insincere.

And while she is classified technically as country, there are plenty of elements of folk, rock and bluegrass in her music, which makes it difficult to pigeonhole and also keeps it more accessible for wider audiences. Well, that's at least true in Australia. Maybe one day America will figure out what it is missing.

Find out more at kaseychambers.com.

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