Kasey Chambers Barricades & Brickwalls

With her debut album, The Captain, unexpectedly making her a sensation in her native Australia (think of her as the Sarah Harmer of "down under"), Chambers seems poised to charm the rest of the world with this follow-up. It's hard not to fall for her just from her background: the daughter of Australia's most beloved folk-rock couple, she grew up on the road, learning traditional music. Her family remains a big part of her career with her father, Bill, playing guitar in her band, and her brother, Nash, working as her producer. On top of that, she has the style and swagger of a young Lucinda Williams, who also has played a huge part in her success. In fact, the opening title track is a slow-burning rocker that's right out of Williams's songbook, but Chambers' innocent delivery lends it an even stronger punch. She wears her heart on her sleeve for most of the album, but unlike many young female songwriters, there isn't a sense that Chambers will drown her sorrows by going on a shopping spree. The influence of her upbringing shines through as well in a confident cover of Gram Parsons' rollicking "Still Feeling Blue." It's just a shame that the closing track, "Ignorance," is hidden. The reason is probably because it's her innocence on full display, but as a protest song, there probably won't be too many others this year that will match. Overall, Barricades & Brickwalls is a second strong outing from a rapidly maturing artist. (Warner)