Totally Biased Fan Reviews: Trucker Caps and Heart Attacks – Mat Black

Mat Black album.png

This album was produced by two of my fave people, Lachlan Bryan and Damian Cafarella. It shows, but mainly, the surprising and fabulous bluesy, country flavour of Mat’s singing and playing is just as important, or more so.

I have to be honest. After moving to Victoria, pretty much exactly two years ago, I have had my faith in this Alt. Country Music industry confirmed a thousand fold. One of the main reasons that I moved here was because I loved the artists down here so much and I was determined to help them in my small way.

I am continually being wowed by musicians down here, not only in a musical fashion but in a personal one. They are totally embracing and overwhelming. I wouldn’t have got through a lot in the last few years without them.

I have seen Mat perform about 4 times now, and sadly missed his big launch of this album yesterday because I had already booked for an outstanding gig elsewhere in Melbourne which was on at the same time!

However, my support for Mat is firm and forthright. I really like  the diversity of his songs, his strong, vibrant vocals and the bluesy, sometimes 50’s and 60’s touch to his songs and of course, the aforementioned slick production from my two fave Wildes.

Ironically, at the gig yesterday, I sat next to Lachlan’s parents, who, like me, would have liked to have been at two places at the same time.

This album is so merlot and late Saturday nights or Irish Coffee and Sunday Arvos.

Being a train gal, and a Tamworth gal, I had to love Railman’s son, which I have heard Mat sing before.  How can you have a country album without a train song?

I have also heard Mat sing Three Holes, which will be a crowd favourite. They will love singing along to this one.

Lost is a favourite as well. Love the bluesy sound.  I am a big legged woman, so this Rockabilly song is okay with me….though I am not sure that Mat is referring to my stumpy legs, probably more the long legged type! I do like the raunchy guitars and Elvis touches.

Same old Song is just awesome.

This album is a delight. Full of bluesy, soulful tracks and a really lovely surprise.

Mat is a beaut bloke, one of many that I have met down here in Victoria and a great talent. I hope that the rest of Australia gets to appreciate his wonderful songs.

Last year was the year of the Ben. From all that I have witnessed this year, so far, it is the year of the Mat, Matt, Matthew.

Awesome stuff.




These City Lights

Diamond Mine

Three Holes

(Too Old to Be) The Wandering Kind

Pockets full of dust

Railman’s Son

I can’t get you off my Mind


Big Leg woman

same Old Song



Totally Biased Fan Review: Andy Penkow – Sad Love Songs


When I heard Drowning in the Whiskey, I was sold on this guy. Such a great song. So many country songs about Whiskey, and it is one drink that I don’t indulge in, ( though I do like the occasional Bourbon and Coke, which is much the same).  I really like the mellow tones of Andy Penkow.. He has a distinctive sound and a very easy going sound that makes you chill out and kick back.

California is a bit funky and groovy. A shower song contender for sure.

Keeping us Apart  is in much the same mode as the first track, with weeping guitars and a very country sentiment.

Andy goes from one upbeat song to a more slower kind of song. One Headlight On has a Keith Urban beat (as is inferred) but it also has a switch in pace.

Sunlight is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It has such a sweet refrain but it will appeal to those who don’t follow country music.

Songbird is not the Fleetwood Mac track, but a bit of a companion piece to the last track.

A House we used to call home could not get more country…lovely.

The title track is awesome. I really love this song. One of my favourite songs this year.

Not This Old House that you old rockers may be thinking of (myself included) but a song that I can relate to and a bit like Cornell and Carr’s beautiful current song….same sentiment.

Goodbye is such a powerful song.

This album will appeal to music fans from lots of genres. It is a hard album not to love. I hope that we hear more from Andy.

I wish that I had known about this artist and this album sooner. How wonderful is this singer/songwriter and they are definitely “Kaz” songs. Man, great voice, wonderful songwriting and my kind of country music.
Rod is one of my favourite musos and producers and he never puts a foot wrong. It is hard to find information on Andy, other than the fact that he lives on the South Coast of NSW. The good thing is that he comes into contention for the Kazzies, because the album was released after the last Kazzies in December ’18. What is better news for you folks out there, is that this is a brilliant album, full of fabulous love songs…..and yes, a lot of them are sad and also powerful.



AndyPenkow tracks.jpg


Andy Penkow Sad Love Songs
Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

Sad Love Songs. Is the debut album by Andy Penkow. Written by Andy Penkow.

Pete Drummond -Drums
Luke Moller -Fiddle & Mandolin
Michel Rose -Steel Guitar
Stefan Nowak -Hammond Organ & Piano
Rod Motbey -Bass, Guitars, Banjo, Keys & Backing Vocals

Recorded & Mixed by Rod Motbey at ‘Tracking Dog Studios’ Shellharbour, Australia.

Mastered by Steve Corrao at ‘Sage Audio’ Nashville, TN.









Totally Biased Fan Review: Country Lovin’ – Feel The Breeze


These gals have great harmonies. It is the key point of their style. Cec is possibly the lead of the two, but Paige knows her mark. She steadies the ship, she’s the technician. Her contribution vocally, is measured, instrumentally, it is major. They are Ying and Yang….or whatever that saying is.

This album (EEP) is a mixture of classics, (Ring of Fire, California Dreaming, Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad) and their own beautiful songs.

Their single, their own song, Feel the Breeze and the title track of this EEP, is doing very well on the country charts, and so it should. It is a beautiful, haunting track.

I love the opening track, Share with you  by G Starr and their other original, Come to Me.  Their special treatment of California Dreaming was always going to win me, as I am a huge Mamas and Papas fan and an even bigger fan of Mama Cass who would have loved this album.

I have to admit, though that Steal My Kisses by Ben Harper is probably my favourite. I really love this.

June Carter and Tammy Wynette are huge legends in country music. They would have been very proud of these versions of their songs.

This is a wonderful EEP (Extended, extended play). I have enjoyed every minute.



Share With You – G Starr

Ring of Fire – June Carter and Merle Kilgore

Feel the Breeze – C Peterson and Paige Peterson

California Dreaming – J Phillips/M Phillips

Steal My Kisses – Ben Harper

Come to Me – C Peterson and P Peterson

Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad – B Sherritt/ G Sutton

Recorded, Mixed and Mastered at the Footloose Studios, Lemon Tree Passage, NSW

Engineer – Ken Foote


Totally Biased Fan Review: The Highwomen – self titled

The Highwomen

I am saying it now, though I have said it before this year. This is one of the most amazing albums of the year. 4 gals who are just bloody awesome. This album is so very country.  If you look at the songwriters and contributing artists on the album, it won’t be hard to guess why.

The Highwomen are the female version of the Highwaymen respectfully and respectively. They are: Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires. With guest appearances by such artists as Sheryl Crow, Yola Carter and Jason Isbell, and co writes with Jimmy Webb, Lori McKenna and Miranda Lambert, you have to say…Yee Haa and ooh wee….

This album brings America back to Nashville as it should be and it is in many ways, always.

The strong female vocals, the twang, the strong lyrics and that good old Nashville sound are there.

There is a bit of honky tonking, There is a bit of toe tapping and a lot of hand clapping and shoulder shifting. There are some wonderful echoes of 70’s and 90’s country music. Thank you.

The prolific Dave Cobb produced this album.

There is a touch of The Dixie Chicks and Trio here.

My only Child and Redesigning Women are my favourite tracks.

This is a beautiful album. Full of great harmonies and musically sharp and well intentioned.  This is the most incredible album from some of American country’s best.

Ahhhh. Cocktail and a Song…..what a bloody magnificent song. I could listen to this album 50 times over in a row.

Thank you gals. It is a rippa. (Aussie talk for fabulous).



“Highwoman” (featuring Yola Carter and Sheryl Crow)
Brandi CarlileAmanda ShiresJimmy Webb
“Redesigning Women”
Natalie HembyRodney Clawson
“Loose Change”
Maren MorrisMaggie ChapmanDaniel Layus
“Crowded Table”
CarlileHembyLori McKenna
“My Name Can’t Be Mama”
CarlileMorrisAmanda Shires
“If She Ever Leaves Me”
ShiresJason IsbellChris Thompkins
“Old Soul”
MorrisLuke DickLaura Veltz
“Don’t Call Me”
ShiresPeter Levin
“My Only Child”
HembyShiresMiranda Lambert
“Heaven Is a Honky Tonk” (featuring Sheryl Crow)
CarlileHembyRay LaMontagne
“Cocktail and a Song”
“Wheels of Laredo”
CarlileTim HanserothPhil Hanseroth

The Highwomen
Brandi Carlile
Natalie Hemby
Maren Morris
Amanda Shires
Yola Carter – guest vocals
Sheryl Crow – backing vocals
Phil Hanseroth – backing vocals, guitar
Tim Hanseroth – backing vocals, guitar
Jason Isbell – guitar


Totally Biased Fan Review: Spectacular Heartbreak – Hayley Marsten (E)


I have not yet received the physical album, so I don’t have all the details. I was impatient and also downloaded it from iTunes. My preferred way is to review from the physical so that I can give credit to the writers and the musos who worked on the album, but it is what is is.

I supported this release by contributing, albeit a small amount. I think that Hayley is amongst our best female country artists today. She may not have the high profile of some others, but Hell, yeah, she has the talent and the spirit.

It has been mentioned that she is great at marketing her music, considering that she is relatively new on the scene and that she may be different to a lot of others going around. Personally, I think that both elements work for her. I am a ballad girl, everybody knows that. I love these songs,

Australia is blessed at the moment with great singer/songwriters in this genre. The song, Wendy, touched our hearts. From that moment, we knew that whatever was going to be released by Hayley was going to be pretty special.

Patty Loveless sounding Hayley in many ways, makes me feel encouraged that Aussie Country Music will remain sounding like Country Music but also it allows room to be reached by others outside the country music fan base.

Her vocals are strong, the album sounds polished and tight.  It allows a certain amount of space to be flexible and melodic.

I think that Green and Blue is my favourite, though Wendy hit me in between the eyes when I first heard it. I had the great pleasure of hearing Hayley at one of the Songwriters in the Round at Tamworth this year and I just loved her songs.

It is more than that, though. When I hear a special artist there is something beyond the songs and the singer. There is a haunting quality, a special connection that makes you just feel….hey….support this girl.

I had no hesitation when it came to the Pozible campaign. I wanted this young lady to record these beautiful songs and get it out there to the folks.

The latest song, Red Wine, White Dress is typical of the faith that I had in her.  Her music is full of soul and twang. There are some sensual tracks, like Watch me Dancing.

I think Hayley is headed for a long career in Country Music. She has a very strong country sound to her voice, yet she is adaptable. She can flex between the 79 types of country music.

Cry in your beer is the drinking song that we all have to listen to as country music fans and probably the reason for the E rating.

Or maybe Pretty is. It is actually one of my favourites. This gal certainly can belt out a tune but she can also sing one that makes you listen intently and understand the lyrics. It is sort of a companion piece to Am I not pretty enough by Kasey Chambers. Not exactly the same, but a good partner.

Call it a day is a beauty. Boy this gal has chops.

Time I have – will break most of us this year. There have been a few things this year in the country music family and my own that are linked closely to these lyrics.

Hayley, this was a great surprise in some ways and in others, I truly expected it. I am glad that I bought it twice, worth every cent.

Come on Australia, spend your hard earned on a truly wonderful home grown artist.


Track Listing

Spectacular Heartbreak
Hitch Your Wagon
Grocery Line
Green and Blue
Watch Me Dancing
Cry in Your Beer
Red Wine, White Dress
Call it a Day
Time I Have

Totally Biased Fan Review: The Weir – Michael Waugh

The Weir Michael Waugh

I love Michael Waugh.  He is the Paul Kelly of Australian Country Music, though Paul Kelly could be defined, sometimes, as the Paul Kelly of Country Music. He has won a few Golden Guitars at Tamworth. Michael’s hometown is just up the road from where I live now. I am going to the launch of this album on Sunday at Maffra, which is the town in question. He writes a lot about his hometown, his Mum’s hometown, Heyfield which is only a spit away from Maffra and the Gippsland area of Victoria in general.

The last album review of Michael’s that I did was described by the man himself as something that his mum would write. That was not a put down, merely a statement of fact. I actually treat the musos whom I review as family members. I only review people that I love.

I always relate to Michael’s songs, albeit from a female perspective. I know the places now that Michael sings and writes about. I know the ambience of the area and folks that he writes about and I know the emotions and stories back to front and front to back.

I have always said that Michael makes you laugh and makes you cry, sometimes in the one line.  I recently saw Michael supporting Shane Nicholson in St Kilda. Shane produces this album, as he has produced the other ones. It is an apt fit. these two know how to tick boxes and get to the heart and mind with their music and lyrics.

Michael doesn’t just tell stories about Gippsland, Maffra and Heyfield. He captures the Australian Spirit. On this song reminds me, he chucks an Aussie Billy Joel and rattles off influences and great Aussie artists. Two that he mentions, Goanna and Redgum, provide some very strong insights into Mr Waugh’s music. There are some very strong connections to Michael’s music there.

Local connections include Warragul, Seaspray, Down in the Valley and The Weir, Last Drinks. Family is a strong influence here, with members mentioned thickly.

As I have mentioned in previous reviews, Michael (like Matt Scullion – who is similar in many ways), makes the ordinary moments and subjects, extraordinary.

Like I Used To is one of my favourite tracks. It is a real and adult portrait of a love story which has morphed from one thing to another to another. So honest and true like Michael Waugh songs are.

Born Here is more Australian than any Aussie anthem, apart from Matt Scullion’s Aussie As and The Seekers’ I am Australian.

Big Things is also a quintessential  Aussie song. It starts off as a bit of a humourous song about the Aussie thing of building big things: Big Banana, guitar, etc but then gets more sentimental and basic by describing small town memories.

A lot of Australian Country Music Artists these days have a strong American twang. Michael is so Australian that you can smell the snags on the barbie and you are likely to get a boomerang hitting you in the head while you listen to the songs.

Michael is a well respected songwriter amongst his peers. All of his albums paint a picture of who we are and where we are as a country and its peoples. Michael has a way about him that on one hand touches your heart and on the other hand makes you think.

Last Drinks is a great song to end with. It ties it all up, really.

You have to take note of these two legends, they say it better than I can.

​“Michael Waugh’s words count for something. His songs are like falling into a movie. It’s a special thing to see a song. Michael’s ability – his gift – is to take tiny, corner-of-the-eye, ordinary moments and sing them into something significant – powerful and memorable and moving. In the cracked earth of The Weir, Michael Waugh has unearthed rare treasures indeed.”
– Colin Buchanan

“The Weir is a lyrical and musical tour de force. These songs have few equals in the current Australian music scene.”
– Eric Bogle

I will be seeing two of my favourite Michael’s this weekend. One of them, I intentionally hoped to see in his home town. I hope to meet his real family, who I feel like I already know through his songs, but also because I am part of his country music family.

Michael, we love you for good reason. Thank you for your honesty, authenticity and the fact that you are just you, without any excuses.






01. The Weir
02. Big Things
03. This Song Reminds Me
04. Mary Lou
05. Be There
06. Search Party
07. Down In The Valley
08. Warragul Police
09. Seaspray
10. Like I Used To
11. 50 Words
12. Born Here
13. Last Drinks

Totally Biased Fan Review: Blue Roses – Runaway June


This trio of truly country gals, is: Naomi Cooke – Lead Vocals, Hannah Mulholland – lower harmony and mandolin and Jennifer Wayne, formerly a third of another trio, Stealing Angels and she co-wrote Eric Paslay’s top 20 hit, She Don’t Love you. She sings high harmony. Of course, she has a familiar last name – she is John Wayne’s grandchild.

The trio wrote 6 out of 10 tracks. 4 songs previously appeared on a self-titled EP. I am glad that I didn’t buy that one, because I would have been cranky when the EP ran out of songs.

The song that is attracting the most mentions on this album is ironically, a cover of Dwight Yoakam’s Fast As You. It is a great version of a fine song. However, there are some wonderful originals on here, that have drawn obvious comparisons to The Dixie Chicks and Trio – Ronstadt, Parton and Harris.

The first song that I heard was Buy My Own Drinks. I bought this album on the strength of that song. It has such powerful lyrics. I hope that much younger women than I listen to those words and learn from them.  It is up tempo, which may at first not take it so seriously, but that is a bit of a disguise….intentional, I think, to grab your attention.

Good, Bad and Ugly is an outstanding track, a love song with a twist.  The title track is probably one of my favourites, for obvious reasons and it definitely has that Linda, Dolly and Emmylou feel to it….which is probably one of the most complimentary things that I could write.

All of the girls have roots deeply imbedded in country music and the preservation of a certain style that most of us are grasping on to.

Some of the tracks are more up tempo than others, but they are not bubblegum songs. They have strong messages and they are fairly hard hitting tracks. Of course, I prefer the slow songs, but that is just my taste. As long as the message is coming through, or the musicianship is so strong that it can’t be passed as throw away music, then I am happy.

If you would rather just tap your toes and shift your shoulders, then you can do that, instead, but either way, it is an album with many layers and it can be listened to on many levels.

We Were Rich is another one that many will relate to from their generation and I can understand that ethic too. It has a catchy tune which is faster than a ballad and slower than a country rocker. The sentiment is lovely.

I know the way is another catchy song, with lots of guitars and an infectious drum beat. Interesting twist on a love story, playing the role of the new girlfriend saying how she is going to do things better than the old one.

There is a certain section of the male population that won’t like some of these songs – probably a bit too close to the truth for some. I see them as honest songs and probably a touch edgy, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, a lot of the things that these young women are singing and writing about happen these days, perhaps they have always happened, people have just been to worried to put them into a song.

Got me where I want you is a bit of a disturbing song, but a story that needs to be told and put out there. It can be taken a few ways, but it is an excellent if difficult one to process.

Producers Dann Huff and Ross Coppermann have done a fine job, but I get the idea that the girls had a bit of a say in how the album was put together.

We will be hearing and seeing a lot more of these young women. Hold on to your hats.


“Head Over Heels”
Tommy CecilNaomi CookeHannah MulhollandJared MullinsJennifer Wayne
“Buy My Own Drinks”
CookeJosh KearHillary LindseyMulhollandWayne
“We Were Rich”
Ross CoppermanNicolle GalyonAshley Gorley
“I Know the Way”
CookeMulhollandEmily ShackeltonWayneBen West
“Trouble with This Town”
CookeChris DeStefanoLiz RoseWayne
“Got Me Where I Want You”
Kat HigginsJustin MorganJames T. Slater
“Fast as You”
Dwight Yoakam
“I Am Too”
busbeeCorey CrowderRose
“Good, Bad & Ugly”
Jacob AttwoollCookeMulhollandSamuel RomanWayne
“Blue Roses”
CookeCaroline CutbirthMarcus HummonWayne