Kasey Chambers Wayward Angel

Kasey Chambers Wayward Angel
Her 2001 sophomore solo disc, Barricades & Brickwalls, catapulted this songstress to major stardom in her Australian homeland and earned her a significant alt-country audience in North America. An extended maternity break has not diluted her creative powers, as this superb new disc confirms. Chambers is often compared to Lucinda Williams, a key musical influence, but their voices are quite different. Kasey's has a timbre closer to Nanci Griffiths, but it never strays from sweet to cloying or sentimental. She has blossomed into an accomplished songwriter too. As befitting a girl from the Australian outback, she is a straight shooter, direct and frank. "This is not Hollywood, this is my life," she declares in "Hollywood," and there is nothing false in her depictions. Chambers wrote all 14 songs on Wayward Angel, three in tandem with her partner Cori Hopper, and there is plenty of variety in the material. "Paper Aeroplane" is a haunting ballad featuring just piano and voice, while other tracks like "Follow You Home" and "Like A River" have a full-blooded band sound. Aside from ace American guitarist Steuart Smith (Rosanne Cash), all the players are Australian and they prove quite the equal of any Nashville cats. Similarly, the production of Nash Chambers (Kasey's brother) is more than competent. A sweet treat indeed.

How would you describe your songwriting process? I don't really think about songwriting that much. I'm not one of those people that get up and write every day, though I wish I could be a little more disciplined. The songs just come out when they want to and sometimes they end up on an album. Songwriting is like a little therapy session for me and the idea that I can get to do my own songs is quite flattering.

Speaking of flattery, has the praise you've got from peers and inspirations like Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle been gratifying? It has been amazing. I have looked up to those people for such a long time. Over the years, I have likely covered 15 Lucinda songs. To then open up a big tour for her and have her sing on my album [Barricades & Brickwalls] is such a spin out. I certainly never imagined that would happen.

When you were playing in rural Australia in your family’s group, the Dead Ringer Band, did you ever predict you'd find success in North America? To be honest I have never really been ambitious in any way, shape or form. I didn't even think I'd have the career I've had in Australia. I never thought anyone in America would be interested in listening to some girl from the outback singing their music. It's so nice to know you can go over there and find that people are willing to accept you. (EMI)