Kasey Chambers

Kasey Chambers

"I wasn't interested in not sounding like me anymore" Kasey Chambers shrugs, wrapping her hands around her coffee cup—the same hands that have received 29 music awards and raised three children. The same hands that pulled crayfish spines from their knuckles on Australia's southern coast and hunted foxes under the Nullarbor's endless blue sky.

It's 1999 and Kasey Chambers is 23 years old. She's spent the last five years traversing the arteries of Australia, singing in a family band. They've performed to empty stools in deserted pubs and to dust-cloaked festival masses. They've slept in motels, in vans and on the road in the rain and snow. It's been a long road and she's been living and breathing music for the length of it. But as she's stepping into the studio to record her first solo album, 'The Captain', she still can't help feeling "naïve, a little bit scared and a little bit excited."

Fifteen years later, these feelings still linger.

"The new album was very much the same for me, because I didn't quite know where it was going to go" she admits. "I had to let go a bit. I'm not good at that." In 2015 Kasey Chambers is released her 7th solo album, and enlisted the help of some local luminaries to pull the whole thing off.

Dan Kelly throws guitar in sparkling sheets and howling clouds over the entire record. Gentleman rock and roller Bernard Fanning—originally hired as a rhythm guitarist—reshapes his role to suit his explosive enthusiasm for the project. He transforms at will into guest vocalist and pianist. Matthew Englebrecht spreads his talents between bass and flugal horn, further enriching the album's breadth and contrast. On drums, Declan Kelly adopts a diffuse array of styles, from rolling Americana to sharp sprays of rock and roll. Along with brand new producer Nick DiDia (whose credits include Pearl Jam, The Wallflowers and Bruce Springsteen to name just a few) Kasey has made what she calls "a massive leap of faith."

But like all good country records, not everything's new. The low, haunted voice of Bill Chambers, Kasey's father and musical mentor, is wrapped lovingly over country gem 'House on a Hill', like a talisman from where it all began: their first family band, The Dead Ringer Band, Kasey and Bill's first collaboration.

Today, after years in the industry, Kasey is naïve no more. She's felt music as both aggressor and healer— grinding and cleansing like some pure, vicious coast. It demands a lot from its maker. But whenever she feels lost, Kasey takes it back to basics. This raw approach helped knit together the loose threads that became the Lost Dogs, a band that healed Kasey, and allowed her to rediscover her love of song.

More so than ever before, Kasey Chambers is writing like a true storyteller. The unrequited, antiquated refrains of 'Oh Grace' are sung as a man yearning his one true love. Likewise the broken-hearted nostalgia of 'Bittersweet' captures the story of two old lovers from both sides. Even 'Stalker' sees Kasey shedding her skin and imagining prowling after the fictional Spencer Reid, the socially-awkward genius from Criminal Minds. "In the show, the characters really have no personal life…so I kept thinking 'how would I get the character Spencer Reid to notice me?...What crime am I willing to commit?'…"

But despite finding new ways to craft her stories, Kasey Chambers is still inimitably her. From the red dust of her nomadic childhood to the surf coast where she's raised her family, Kasey's always maintained that her records have been a testament to "who [she] was at the time". And her newest album is proof that she's unwilling to settle for anything less.

"I don't want to write songs based on what I think people want to hear from me. I hope that in the end, this is what they warm to."

Jen Van Meter

Maryland native and roots rocker, Jennifer Van Meter, has been at it for over ten years now as a songwriter and performer. With a catalog of songs pushing the forty mark, Jen continues to blur the genre lines while refusing to constrict the songs from becoming what they will.



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