Americana A-Z – Kasey Chambers

It would have been simple to have taken the path of least resistance and gone for Kris Kristofferson (and even had two K’s for the price of one), but no, here are at Americana UK we don’t do things the easy way and opted instead for a generally much less widely known artist in the form of Kasey Chambers.

Since her debut album release ‘The Captain,’ Kasey Chambers has quietly and confidently established herself as one of the strongest and most consistent singer/songwriters to emerge since the turn of the century. Chambers is a star and a huge critical favourite in her native Australia but generally much less well known internationally.

She has recorded a remarkable catalogue of work that is rooted in country and folk music but which veers into rockier as well as much more diverse alt-country territory on much of her output.

Born in 1976 in Mount Gambier in South Australia (which is almost exactly midway between Adelaide and Melbourne for those who either didn’t know or who have a deep desire to increase their geographical knowledge of that part of the world), her younger years were spent in the outback with what resembles a script for a potentially corny movie as part of her back story:

I grew up with such a unique childhood living on the Nullarbor Plain with my family for the first 10 years of my life. We did all of our cooking on open fire – my dad hunted for our food and then mum would put it in the camp oven. After we’d eaten, my dad brought out the guitar and we’d all sit around this campfire and play music together.

Thanks to her parents’ love of country music, her early years saw Kasey exposed to the likes of Hank Williams, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash and the other country greats of that era and it was no real surprise when she joined the family’s highly regarded Dead Ringer Band and by the time she was eighteen she was not only fronting that outfit but also penning much of their original material.

Following the almost mandatory international sojourn that many young Australians undertake, her breakthrough as a solo artist came in 1999 with the release of the critically acclaimed ‘The Captain’ –  also featuring Buddy and Julie Miller on guitar and vocals – which won the first of her ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) awards for best country album and best female artist, and the roll continued with the 2001 release ‘Barricades and Brickwalls’ which saw her pick up her second ARIA for best album before the 2004 ‘Wayward Angel’ album saw her once again pick up the ARIA double of best female artist and best album.

In 2005 Kasey married fellow artist Shane Nicholson and the duo released the excellent 2008 ‘Rattlin’ Bones’ which provided yet another number one album and the by now almost automatic ARIA for best country album. Shortly after their second album, ‘Wreck and Ruin,’ Kasey and Shane announced their separation.

Her tenth studio album ‘Bittersweet’ was released in 2014 and was notable in that it was the first not to be produced by her brother Nash with American Nick DiDia (who has also produced for Bruce Springsteen and Rage Against the Machine as well as many others) taking over production duties and the still raw emotions of the split with Shane Nicholson are there for all to see, hear and feel.

Kasey Chambers simply keeps churning out great music and it never seems to get stale or repetitive.  She is a real gem and long may she continue.

The Career:  12 studio albums, 14 ARIA awards, 10 APRA (Australian Performing Rights Awards) and inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2018 and an additional nine CMAA (Country Music of Australia) awards.

Key Release: This is a tough one but after great deliberation it has to be her brilliant debut release ‘The Captain.’ This was a clear statement that Kasey Chambers had arrived. There isn’t a bad song on the record and it sets the scene and tone for the eleven albums that follow in its wake.

Author: Jim Finnie

Resident of the frozen NE of Scotland, with a penchant for climbing high mountains and exploring crazy countries that others avoid. I also sorta like music.

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