Kasey Chambers

In 2013 James Gandolfini died suddenly, and far too young. His most famous role was as Tony Soprano, the New Jersey mafia boss in the TV series The Sopranos. In honour, the entire six series were shown again on TV, and at the end of episode 8, series 3, was the haunting 'The Captain' by Kasey Chambers.

I had never heard of Kasey before, but was completely captivated by this great song. A quick search on iTunes and I had found all her albums. Now, my taste in music is pretty eclectic but it's unusual for me to like almost everything by an artist. Generally a few tracks, an album or two, and that's my lot. But not this time. Completely hooked I have played Kasey's albums over and over and over again and there are only a few songs that I don't like.

I'm a big country fan, and Kasey seems to be classified as a country singer/songwriter. She has written and performed many country songs, and says her her influences are Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Certainly this influence can be heard in the music, but I think there's much more than this.

Kasey's first album, The Captain, was released in 1999. These twelve tracks are some of Kasey's best work in my view. Mostly classic country/folk, 'Last Hard Bible' is a typical country and western style song, and 'Don't Go' is a moving love song.

The Captain was a great album, but the next four, released between 2001 and 2008, represent the most successful time for Kasey who topped the album charts in the US and Australia every time. Barricades and Brickwalls brings another batch of country plus an absolute gem in 'Nullarbor Song'. This tells the story of Nullarbor, a remote, desolate and beautiful place. With a very simple guitar track this is all about Kasey's voice and and the love of a hometown.

Kasey does a fair rendition of Gram Parson's 'Still Feeling Blue' (and for some time Kasey performed with Emmylou Harris in another link with Gram). The best song on this album though is 'If I were You'. There are three things I really like about this song: the correct use of 'were' in the title (I know....) then there's the great way Kasey holds the 'I' a little longer than you might expect so instead of 'If I.....were you' it goes 'if I...............were you' and lastly the final rendition of the chorus is sung without backing music, then it kicks in for the last couple of lines. Just great.

The real surprise on this album I think is 'I Still Pray' performed with Paul Kelly. It's a soulful, moving song. Kasey moves away from the country scene with the hidden song 'Ignorance'. It's a classic protest song reflecting on the messed up state of the world. At first listen it does not appeal but I found this grew on me - not least because the message is spot on.

Wayward Angel contains a number of lighter, country/folk love songs, and one classic country and western style finger pickin' foot tappin' ditty 'Follow You Home'.

Kasey shows that she is not just a country singer with the next album, Carnival, which is a real mixed bag. Although likeable I think that it's not my favourite. There are one or two quite edgy songs here ('I Got You Now') and the soulful 'You Make Me Sing' is probably the best track, but really I think Kasey is better sticking with her country and folk roots.

In later albums Kasey sings solo less and less. In 'Wreck and Ruin' she partners with Shane Nicholson and returns to the country style that made her name, but I keep going back to play The Captain and Barricades...her best albums in my view.

For more on Kasey visit her website here.