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Country - Released June 28, 2005 | Asylum - Warner Records

In "Southern Kind of Life," a song on her debut album, The Captain, Kasey Chambers convincingly describes a rural Southern upbringing -- poverty stricken and Bible dominated -- and since she performs in a style associated with the Appalachians as developed into commercial country music, it's easy to assume she's singing about the American South. But she isn't; she's singing about the Nullarbor Plain in south-central Australia, where she grew up, apparently listening to a lot of country records. The result is a style that will remind some listeners of Dolly Parton and others of Lucinda Williams, as Chambers, backed by her father and produced by her brother, both of them members of the family's Dead Ringer Band, sings in a breathy voice that breaks expressively. Her tunes tend to be either "I am" songs of self-description like "Southern Kind of Life" and "Cry Like a Baby," accounts of romantic difficulties, or celebrations of life on the road. Though she has a gift for wordplay that favors internal rhyme, her imagery can be trite ("You got the car and I got the break"), and her compositions are less interesting in themselves than in the performances she gives them. Like many young artists, she is still a compendium of her influences rather than a distinct figure unto herself, but The Captain is a sincere effort steeped in the kind of country/folk/rock style that made Lucinda Williams a critical success in the late '90s, and it is likely to attract similar attention. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Sugar Hill Records

One thing Australia has in common with the American South is that both became home to many of the descendents of the Scottish highlanders who lost their battle against the British when Bonnie Prince Charlie fumbled the Battle of Culloden in 1745. So if Kasey Chambers, born and raised in Southern Australia, sings Appalachian folk melodies as naturally as anyone following a similar musical path in the United States, you can probably chalk that up to a shared heritage and musical tradition. As for her skills as a vocalist and songwriter, that's a matter of talent, pure and simple, and Chambers and her husband, singer and songwriter Shane Nicholson, have teamed up for their second album of acoustic songs following 2008's superb Rattlin' Bones, which shows they're delivering some of the purest and most satisfying country sounds of anyone working in the 21st century. Most of the tunes on Wreck & Ruin are love songs of a sort, though much of it doesn't seem all that romantic; "Adam and Eve" plays the story of the first couple as a tale of outlaws on the run from the law (in this case, the Lord), while "Familiar Strangers" is a heartbreaking study of a relationship gone bad, "Your Sweet Love" ponders just how much a good man can save a troubled woman, and the title tune is a joyous celebration of chaos and personal failings. Chambers and Nicholson's harmonies are excellent, technically strong, and emotionally powerful, and the 13 songs they wrote for this project are sublime, hitting their target with impressive skill whether they're trying to generate laughter, menace, or a pull on the heartstrings. Wreck & Ruin has a natural, easygoing feel that never undercuts the skill or force of the performances, sounding like it was cut live in the studio (and with intros that find the songs falling into shape as the tape rolled), and Chambers and Nicholson are accompanied by some fine pickers who give this just the right feel, particularly fiddler John Bedggood, Jeb Cardwell on dobro, and Chambers' own simple but satisfying banjo. Wreck & Ruin sounds fresh as the dew and old as the hills all at once, and anyone who doubts that Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson are two of the finest natural talents in country and folk music today need only listen to this to be convinced. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2008 | Sugar Hill Records

As we all learned from watching There Will Be Blood, ambition can be a good thing and a bad thing. On her fourth solo album, Carnival, Kasey Chambers seemed determined to move past the country influences that dominated her earlier work, and while she proved more than worthy to the task, the album also upped the creative ante in a way that raised unspoken questions about what Chambers would or could do for an encore. So the surprise is that for album number five, Chambers has seemingly taken a step back -- Rattlin' Bones is a spare, primarily acoustic set she wrote and recorded in collaboration with former Pretty Violet Stain vocalist Shane Nicholson (who also happens to be Chambers' husband). With its concise arrangements and Appalachian accents, Rattlin' Bones plays like an effort to reclaim some of the country feeling she gave up on Carnival and return to more familiar surroundings, except for one little thing -- this is as good and as compelling an album as Kasey Chambers has ever made. The good news is that Chambers and Nicholson are as fine a match in the recording studio as they presumably are at home, and his high lonesome tenor blends beautifully with the emotionally charged nooks and crannies of her one-of-a-kind voice. Chambers is still a top-shelf songwriter who can document common scenes of life with uncommon pathos and attention to detail, and Nicholson's contributions are equally intelligent and just as effective. Most of Rattlin' Bones sounds like it was laid down live in the studio, and the communication between the vocalists and the musicians is a beautiful thing to hear, whether they're calling up the shade of death on "Sleeping Cold" or gracefully contemplating the tricky side of love on "Wildflower." Rattlin' Bones is an album that sounds simple on the surface, but it never feels lazy or short on creative vision -- Chambers and Nicholson have found something elegant and emotionally powerful in the pared-down production and arrangements of these sessions, and the music they've created is a wonder to behold, as if they found a way to make a wildly ambitious musical statement without asking you to believe that's what they had in mind. A neat trick, that. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Country - Released December 16, 2008 | Warner Records

On Barricades & Brickwalls, Kasey Chambers exceeds the high standards that critics had already attached to her even at age 25. The instrumental tracks, raw and unpretentious, provide an ideal setting for her vocals, whose hint of world-weary reflection suggests significant growth even in the brief span of time since her American debut, The Captain. The material is presented concisely, never so much as a verse too long; from the title track, a menacing meditation on obsession, to gentler and more traditional reflections such as "On a Bad Day," Chambers delivers each lyric with disarming artlessness, after which the music simply stops or fades without flourish. Images of restless and rootless wandering crop up repeatedly, appropriate in different ways to a variety of settings: a "lonesome whistle cries" like a promise of danger in "Barricades & Brickwalls," while "the railway line" points toward a chaos of ecstasy on "Runaway Train" and "the whistle blows" rumors of faraway wonders through the desolation of her homeland on "Nullabor Song." Chambers is strongest when evoking these metaphors of distance, isolation, and redemption; on harder-edged material, such as the rock-oriented "Crossfire," she seems, by comparison, a step or two outside of her comfort zone. The replication of a Patsy Cline vibe on "A Little Bit Lonesome," complete with vintage production and bouncy fiddle fills, clarifies that Chambers draws from the most vital currents that feed the body of her chosen tradition. Guest appearances by Lucinda Williams, Buddy Miller, and Matthew Ryan further authenticate Barricades & Brickwalls as prime-cut Americana -- an ironic appellation, perhaps, given Chambers' Australian roots, but appropriate nonetheless. © Robert L. Doerschuk /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2011 | Sugar Hill Records

Kasey Chambers has a dozen years on Taylor Swift -- hell, she could have been an influence -- but since the Pennsylvania girl took over the world, Chambers landed on the "you may also like" list. Not that that's a bad thing, though, as the ladies share the same brand of streamlined country-pop that sounds universal enough to appeal to romantic music aficionados anywhere in the world, but without losing that American vibe that Chambers creates no less skillfully for being an Australian. Little Bird is more old school, as it peppers the pop hits with honest to God country numbers, complete with banjo and fiddle -- see "Georgia Brown" or the closer. But while those are nice, there's no arguing that the multi-platinum sales Chambers enjoys on her home turf are due to a different facet of her sound -- those simple guitar-driven tunes that owe as much to folk and Bryan Adams as to Dolly Parton and the Man in Black. The melodies are simple and so are the lyrics, but as long as the emotion is genuine, the simplicity is a benefit, and Little Bird has enough of those, be it dynamic rockers backed by electric guitars ("Down Here on Earth") or delicate strummed balladry ("Somewhere"). Now, Swift does it better -- possibly because she is younger and more naive, but actually because she's just more adept at tapping that sappiness vibe that people in love anywhere in the world can relate to. With Chambers, the music and the words sometimes tether on the brink of cliché, not archetype. But for the most part, she is still able to deliver her tunes with honesty that makes you think about feelings she's conveying, not her recording budgets, as is the case with many over-processed country stars out there. © Alexey Eremenko /TiVo
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Country - Released September 12, 2006 | Warner Records

After firmly establishing herself as the most gifted artist on Australia's country music scene with her first three solo albums, Kasey Chambers has given herself some new worlds to conquer on 2006's Carnival. While Carnival is roots-friendly enough that it isn't likely to seriously alienate most of her fans, this album does represent a clear and decisive break from the country-influenced approach of her earlier music; most of these 12 songs are easygoing but satisfying roots rock with a bluesy undertone, though the vengeful "I Got You Now" is real-deal rock & roll with plenty of tough rave-up guitar from Mark Punch, there's a jazzy sway to "Light Up a Candle," and "You Make Me Sing" is a sexy bit of late-night funk. Carnival places Chambers' music in new surroundings, but for the most part she herself (thankfully) seems little changed. As a vocalist, Chambers remains wonderfully expressive while maintaining a realistic emotional palate at all times, and her instrument is simple but gorgeous. As a songwriter, she keeps getting better at writing about the stuff of everyday lives (love, lust, disappointment, getting on with life) with an uncommon degree of horse sense and attention to detail, and if anything, the new musical backdrops have added to the depth of her emotional landscapes. And with her brother Nash Chambers once again on hand as producer, the music is as soulful and smart as her singing, which is no small accomplishment. With Carnival, Kasey Chambers gives up her title as the greatest Aussie country singer alive and becomes -- the greatest Aussie singer around today? Maybe that's going a bit far to make a point, but after hearing this album, most people would be much less likely to argue the point. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Country - Released September 9, 2014 | Concord Sugar Hill

Anyone who spends much time with Kasey Chambers' body of work will likely get the impression she doesn't need much help from anyone to make a great album, though she certainly doesn't mind having like-minded collaborators on hand. But after making a pair of fine albums with her husband Shane Nicholson and cutting all of her records since 2000's The Captain with her brother Nash Chambers as producer, Chambers has decided to take a different path on 2015's Bittersweet; she recorded this album as a solo set, and brought in American producer Nick DiDia to oversee the sessions. Chambers has always been an artist unafraid to follow her muse, so these changes in her working method don't make Bittersweet sound like the product of an artist throwing off her shackles, but the album does manage to sound musically clear and direct and lyrically revealing while also displaying a slightly more artful side of Chambers' music. Bittersweet gracefully moves from traditionally styled acoustic numbers like "Oh Grace" and full-bodied weepers such as "House on a Hill" to the hard-stomping electric boogie of "Wheelbarrow" and the insistent alt-country of "Hell of a Way to Go," with Chambers and her band sounding fully engaged and sure of themselves at every turn. And while Chambers isn't afraid to sound passionately reckless on "Stalker" or furiously insistent on "I'm Alive," Bittersweet also has a distinct spiritual undertow, as Chambers ponders her relationship with the Lord on "Is God Real?," tells the story of Mary and the birth of Christ from the mother's perspective on "Christmas Day," and addresses the moral and spiritual failings that weigh us down on "Heaven or Hell." As always, Chambers has written a set of songs that are unpretentiously intelligent but deal with matters of the heart and soul with unrelenting honesty, and her rough, sweet vocals never deliver anything short of the ring of truth. Bittersweet is a strong, satisfying album from one of the best and most distinctive singer/songwriters of her day, and this confirms she can move in any number of different directions and still offer her listeners something remarkable. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 7, 2004 | Warner Records

When Kasey Chambers sings, she manages the not-unremarkable accomplishment of splitting the difference between Emmylou Harris's crystalline purity and Lucinda Williams's rough-hewn emotional honesty, and the most startling thing is you sense she sounded like this before she ever heard of either artist. Chambers' songwriting is no less remarkable, and connects in much the same way, chronicling matters of the heart and soul in a manner that achieves a genuine and unaffected beauty with just a dash of the truthful messiness that comes with being human. Chambers's third solo album, Wayward Angel, is perhaps a bit less striking than her first two sets, The Captain and Barricades & Brickwalls, if only because she staked out her style on those sessions, and here she's harvesting from the ground she broke earlier on. But this also sounds like her most accomplished effort to date. Whether she sings from the perspective of a precocious child ("Pony"), a woman with a serious case of lust ("Guilty as Sin"), or an elderly man ("Paper Aeroplane"), Chambers never fails to hit the right note as a lyricist, or make a false step as a vocalist, and Wayward Angel is informed by a confidence that never sinks into arrogance. Chambers is also lucky to have on hand as producer her brother Nash Chambers, who has paired Kasey with a team of gifted pickers who add color to the songs without cluttering the landscape, and captured the results in an admirably straightforward manner. Wayward Angel is the work of a strikingly talented singer and songwriter, and it's simply a pleasure to hear Kasey Chambers work -- anyone who doubts that this woman is a major artist needs to hear this album as soon as possible. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Sugar Hill Records

One thing Australia has in common with the American South is that both became home to many of the descendents of the Scottish highlanders who lost their battle against the British when Bonnie Prince Charlie fumbled the Battle of Culloden in 1745. So if Kasey Chambers, born and raised in Southern Australia, sings Appalachian folk melodies as naturally as anyone following a similar musical path in the United States, you can probably chalk that up to a shared heritage and musical tradition. As for her skills as a vocalist and songwriter, that's a matter of talent, pure and simple, and Chambers and her husband, singer and songwriter Shane Nicholson, have teamed up for their second album of acoustic songs following 2008's superb Rattlin' Bones, which shows they're delivering some of the purest and most satisfying country sounds of anyone working in the 21st century. Most of the tunes on Wreck & Ruin are love songs of a sort, though much of it doesn't seem all that romantic; "Adam and Eve" plays the story of the first couple as a tale of outlaws on the run from the law (in this case, the Lord), while "Familiar Strangers" is a heartbreaking study of a relationship gone bad, "Your Sweet Love" ponders just how much a good man can save a troubled woman, and the title tune is a joyous celebration of chaos and personal failings. Chambers and Nicholson's harmonies are excellent, technically strong, and emotionally powerful, and the 13 songs they wrote for this project are sublime, hitting their target with impressive skill whether they're trying to generate laughter, menace, or a pull on the heartstrings. Wreck & Ruin has a natural, easygoing feel that never undercuts the skill or force of the performances, sounding like it was cut live in the studio (and with intros that find the songs falling into shape as the tape rolled), and Chambers and Nicholson are accompanied by some fine pickers who give this just the right feel, particularly fiddler John Bedggood, Jeb Cardwell on dobro, and Chambers' own simple but satisfying banjo. Wreck & Ruin sounds fresh as the dew and old as the hills all at once, and anyone who doubts that Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson are two of the finest natural talents in country and folk music today need only listen to this to be convinced. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 25, 2006 | Warner Records