Totally Biased Fan Review: Sally-Anne Whitten and Allison Forbes at The Retreat



This will be a totally, totally biased review. These gals are my “Tamworth Sisters”. I was so chuffed that they were appearing together (with Alwyn and Trev and Alwyn’s son) in my new home state. I recently saw them in Tamworth and Allison was here earlier in the year, so I have been lucky. Not only are Sal and Allison two of my fave singers (and people) but together with one of Australia’s finest guitarists and producers, Alwyn Aurisch and at one of my fave Melbourne pubs, The Retreat at Brunswick, a girl can’t really ask for more.

Allison was up first, with Alwyn and Trev joining her for a few tracks and Sally-Anne coming up for a few songs too. The two have written songs with each other and have performed with each other on albums and at gigs. It shows. They work with each other well.

Sally-Anne calls her music funktry or soultry. Allison calls hers punktry. I think that whatever the label, they are both amazing singers and songwriters and they always deliver.

Sally-Anne featured a lot of the songs from her latest album as well as some songs from her last album and some classics. Sal and I have talked about our music heroes over the years and we have even turned up at the same gigs sometimes! It is not a surprise that her influences (and mine) have effected her music.

The crowd was appreciative. They listened to all of the music and sang along, we even had some folks meandering through to the beer garden who stopped and paused to listen for a while.

To get such quality performers for free at a great venue is an awesome thing. These two girls never fail. They often surprise newcomers to their music and they are always good value.

If you get a chance to spin one of their discs or go to see them live, please do. These gals are two of the best in the country in any genre.



Totally Biased Fan Review: Andrew Swift,Megan Cooper, and special guests Mitch Power and Gretta Ziller – House concert at Monica and Bruce’s.


A lovely evening with great music, company and food….gosh Monica!  I finally got to hear Swifty sing more than a hand  full of songs. He wasn’t very well but you would never know, he hit all the high notes and sang most of my faves from the album…..the album that not all of us can pronounce! (It is one of the best of the year though….see my review…it will be on Country As – link is here). He was well supported by Megan Cooper who launched her album down here last week. It is a beauty too, also reviewed on this blog.

House concerts are great for us fans, probably more so than for the artists, as we get to talk to them and hound them a bit….sorry….I am very passionate about music and I tend to get excited around my faves. I don’t mean to be pushy, but what an opportunity. Beautifully assisted by the wonderful Queen of Boomtown (multi-award Kazzie winning and big award nominated,) Gretta Ziller and the Muso/Comedian/nice guy, Mitch Power.

We were very spoiled by 4 of the best Indies around. Fabulous music, stories and all artists had a great sense of humour. It was a fun night, with all of the elements that a country music fan wants. The Alt. Country scene in Melbourne is alive and well and all of those from different states are welcome to come down and enjoy the appreciative crowds and warm atmosphere….even in Winter.

Monica and Bruce do a a beaut job of presenting these evenings. They always have a great mix of artists on and it is a gig that I would gladly pay 100 bucks to go to.

It was just like being at home with the family, singing along to familiar songs and having a good laugh.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Under My Skin – Kirsty Lee Akers


As always, when I do a review (the only thing that I am impatient with is new releases!) from Itunes (I will buy the solid copy soon), I don’t have much to go on about credits and liner notes. It has even been hard finding information on other reviews and such. However, I have every Kirsty Lee Akers album – in one form or another – and I have seen her in concert about 10 times and at Songwriters in the Round in Tamworth, so I know enough to form an opinion.

We are so proud of Kirsty Lee Akers. She started out young in the N.T. and her Kurri Kurri  ways endeared us to a down to earth, what you see is what you get kind of chick. If she was any more down to earth, she’d be called Dusty.

In truth, Kirsty Lee has been around for a long time now, but she started young and she is still a pup. To have achieved all that she has achieved in the short time that she has been on this earth and still be a natural, down home girl with no airs and graces is quite phenomenal.

She is one of the best live acts that I have ever seen. This pocket dynamo always puts on a great live show. She now lives a large part of her year in the U.S.A. but she always comes home and still remains the same girl that we know and love.

She produced this album, and that is a step up as well. The songs are always about things that happen to her or happen to people around her. She mixes it up a bit, but she sings them all – no matter what type of country – with her country twang. The pocket dynamo with the big voice is pretty much the dark haired, Aussie version of Dolly Parton.

There are a lot of shower songs on this album. I can see myself dancing in the shower and singing out loud – sorry neighbours. There are also the poignant, beautiful songs like House Full of Flowers (Hannah’s Song), about the young girl whom Kirsty befriended and who touched all of Australians with her battle that she sadly lost.

Under My Skin, the title track, is probably one of my favourites, too. Very catchy and boppy but still has the country sound.

I love Fallin’ and The First Time too, they are awesome songs.

The thing that I love about Kirsty’s songs is that she is never afraid to tell it like it is.  Whether it be a sad or tough issue or an everyday thing, she is always honest, frank and not afraid to tell the story.

We are all so proud of her for her launch overseas and all that she has done as an Aussie Country Music Artist. She has worked very hard for a long time and the best is yet to come. Like Kasey Chambers and Jasmine Rae, you wonder where the powerful voice and huge courage comes from, but then you see their hearts and you know.

Change the world probably sums up the journey….unless I am reading too much into it…..I do that sometimes. There are some dynamic tracks on this album. As always, Kirsty Lee delivers the songs with gusto and truth.

Go along for the ride….you won’t be disappointed.

Great way to finish with That Ring don’t fit my hand…..great song.




Under My Skin


Change the World

Chasing Ghosts

House Full of Flowers (Hannah’s Song)

It was Always You

Heart of stone

The First Time

That Ring Don’t Fit My Hand

Totally Biased Fan Review – Number 26 – Gary Leonard Hammond


Anybody who has been reading my reviews on my blogs over the years, knows that I have reviewed most of Gary’s albums. Gary’s music doesn’t have a specific genre. It tends to bounce around between many kinds of music. Gary writes all of his own songs that he records, as well as featuring in a covers band regularly. Gary was a footy player in the VFA and is still ranked in the top ten goal kickers of all time. His number was 26. There is an interesting video on Gary, I think that it is still on Youtube which looks at his footy, his life and his music.

I love Gary’s songwriting. He is never afraid to tackle big issues or controversial ones. His views are similar to mine, so it is easy to connect on that level. His songs go down easy, like a fine cognac (or how I imagine a fine cognac to go down if I wasn’t on a beer budget!)

If you have listened to Gary’s music before, you will recognise a few of these songs – like Would You Marry Me Again, which I have played a few times on 2GLF and the single Have You Seen Ruby? The opening track is quite uptempo for a Gary recording. I really like it, it is a good way to start. Rolling Hill is beautiful, apparently, from what I have read, it is about Gary’s parents. It will definitely find a way onto my new playlist.

We are gifted with a baker’s dozen on this recording. There are some gentle, celtic like tunes, some soft swing, some blues, and yes some country. There are some folkish songs and they are all good, whatever the album. I have often thought that Gary is like Dylan and Kristofferson, his voice fits his songs. It Amazes Me is one of those soft swing songs and it is almost making a crooner out of him.

Each song has a unique fade out to it. You have to be a little bit prepared for it, but once you get used to it, it just adds to the ambience. I liked Have you seen Ruby? from the moment that I heard it. It almost has a 50’s sound to it. Over the Hill goes back even further, it is a fusion between a few bluesy/jazzy styles.

Caught in the Rain has a touch of Gilbert O’Sullivan about it from the seventies but it also has trombone representing that 40’s sound. That is the beauty of Gary’s songs, they not only represent different genres, they represent different decades and eras.

Any train song is good by me. All Aboard the Train almost sounds like Peter Gabriel. There…another one.

I have already mentioned Would You Marry Me Again…it is a slightly different version from the original, but it still cool. I really like this song.

In their shoes has a touch of the George Benson about it, Father has some beautiful harmonies and the musical arrangement is spot on. It is a sad song in many ways….old softy here had a few tears….but that’s not a bad thing.

I think that Travelling is the most country kind of song that Gary sings. It is catchy and has some cool twangy guitars. This one would go down very well at Tamworth.

Holy Man has a touch of Paul Simon’s Gracelands about it. It also has a bit of a doo wop feel about it as well.

Typical of Gary, he finishes with something that most people would probably start with, “In the Beginning”, however, it is a good fade out song, instrumentally and a launching pad….as well as being a reflective piece in many ways.

Gary and I have never met. We have been facebook friends forever and we have shared thoughts and “we have to catch up” but we keep missing each other in real life. His wife has become a good pen pal too! One day we will get our act together. If you like a bit of everything, this is a thinking person’s artist and a thinking person’s music. You can also just mellow out to it.