Totally Biased Fan Review – Songs Before The New Songs – Michael Bryers

Michael Bryers Songs Before the New Songs

When people ask me who my favourite singer/songwriters are, it is a bit like saying who your favourite children are. It is a hard thing to do. It would be a good bet to put some money on Michael Bryers though. He is in my top 10 favourites….I have been a Bryers fan for about the same time as I have been a Luke O’Shea fan and the Yin and Yang of Australian Country Music are magic on stage together. It all fits.

One of my fave gigs at Tamworth is a Michael Bryers’ gig. If I can’t catch the whole 3 hours at one time, I try and catch a set here and a set there. Michael has an enormous sensitivity and a great passion for the things that he believes in and holds dear. That is reflected in his performances and in his recordings.

This is a wonderful collection of songs from two of Michael’s previous albums, Somewhere in Between and Frangipani. If I heard Michael right at the gigs, these albums aren’t available anymore, so he put the songs onto one album and he is calling them the songs before the new songs. He played a few other songs at his gigs which aren’t on Sideshow, which is one of my favourite Australian Country Music albums of all time (see my top 100). These songs will go on to another album which will be produced in the next decade…..we had to wait that long for Sideshow. (Mind you, it is a masterpiece).

So that explains the set up.  Michael always does things a bit differently.  What he always does, though, is produce fabulous albums with amazing songs that cover a gamut of subjects, emotions, opinions and they have enormous depth. Michael is not a lightweight. His music always has meaning and they leave you thinking, re-thinking and of course, they make you feel something.

Michael would have a song to please most audience members. He has a few different styles and delivers everything from different angles. He is a storyteller, like his mate, Luke, but with a different sound to Luke. Michael is more bluesy, he can belt out a ballad, and like Luke, he is a thinking fan’s musician. There are no bubblegum, fluffy throwaway songs here.  This is a poet with a guitar.

For old fans of Michael, it is a chance to relive old songs  in one hit, for new fans, it is a good way to gain an introduction to the quality music that Michael has to offer. If you buy this and Sideshow, you have the best of Michael and you can look forward to what is hopefully another wonderful recording of new music.

I am very proud to be a Michael Bryers’ fan. If you don’t know Michael, I hope that this helps you get started on a journey that you will never regret.

MichaelBryersandMe

 

Tracks:

2 Lost Souls

21 Nights

Already There

Cigarette Breath

Fall Like Rain

Feel

Frangipani

Gone Again

If I Live

John Prine Said

Look The Other Way

Million Words

My Opinion

Nothing To Lose

Runaway Car

Somewhere In Between

Those Were The Days

Turnin’ Blue

Walkin’ On

All songs written by Michael Bryers

From the albums: Somewhere In Between and Frangipani

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Totally Biased Fan Review: Shanley Del and James Gillard EP

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Waiting for something from these two extraordinary artists was like a kid waiting for Christmas Day to dawn or for a Christian waiting for the Second Coming.

Like all good things, it was worth the wait. Shanley and I are the same age and probably have many of the same influences in our lives. This Kiwi who is firmly planted in Aussie culture, harmonises so beautifully with James, always has. Shanley usually takes the lead and James adds the frosting and the cream. It is lovely to hear James step up on Make you cry. This four song teaser EP is a mix of old and new, including one of my favourite songs of all time, Your Own Sweet Time. Over the last few years, Shanley has slowly edged herself back into performing, especially with Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes.

There is a rumour that there will be an album later in the year, and I look forward to that. These two are two of Australasia’s finest.  James has been in just about everybody’s band and does more back ups than a Mac truck on the Hume Highway.

I have always been a big fan of both of them and James has been a particular idol for me. The two of them together is pretty speccy. Four songs are not enough….more, more, more….please….

This EP is absolutely faultless.

 

Tracks:

Need to talk to you

Make you cry

Your Own Sweet Time

I’ve Got All the Time In The World

Totally Biased Fan Review: Bill Chambers – 1952

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“The songs are pretty much about living, dying and the passing of time” Bill says of his latest album, 1952. With daughter, Kasey, they are performing sell out concerts across America at the moment. Bill was born in the United Kingdom but spent most of his life in outback Australia and then NSW’s Central Coast.

It is always a major event for me when a Bill Chambers’ album comes out. I don’t have the credits, but I suspect that Nash Chambers has a hand in it as well. I love Bill’s style. It is a fusion of so many of my heroes and no doubt Bill’s heroes too. There is something of a nostalgic ambience around a Bill Chambers’ album. His songs take me back to a mixture of Townes Van Zandt, Gram Parsons, Jim Croce and the like with a mix of the Guthries, Bob Dylan and Hank in twists and turns.

Bill always mixes it up with light hearted moments and more than one or two songs full of sentiment and reflection. Best known recently for his advice to his daughter “Don’t be a dickhead” which is now an infamous t-shirt and various one liners, there will be a few more attributed to him on this album, like “stick the guitar up your arse”, and the like. You never know what you will hear next from Bill, but then again, you do. He is not backwards in coming forwards and he full of simple, homespun truths.

There is no confusing Bill’s music with anything but country music. That familiar husky voice and the stories that pour out like whiskey over ice, this album is probably close to Bill’s finest works, with every song a tasty piece of pie, whether it is a meat pie or an apple one….savoury or sweet. Guitars gently strumming and sometimes twangy, and that signature honesty from a man who has had a full and colourful life, you are in for a treat.

I don’t use the word ‘legend’ a lot, because it should be reserved for the very best and for those who have stood the test of time and endured it all. Bill is a legend and from his hat to his boots, Bill Chambers is a stunning example of an Aussie legend, especially with a guitar in hand.

From the opening song about Hank, to an almost Paul Kelly sounding song with some Bill touches in Truckstop Cowboy and all of the songs in between, this is a bottler. There are songs about family, friends, and all of the things from the Chambers’ quote above. I love That’s How I Remember You Best, Highway through the Snow and Gravel Road. A lot of the songs are autobiographical, and you have to love how Bill just tells it like it is.

Bravo legend, you have done it again.

 

Tracklist:
01 – 1952 Cadillac
02 – Goodnight
03 – Time
04 – You Ain’t Never Owned a Gun
05 – Place Where I Was Born
06 – Highway Through the Snow
07 – Gravel Road
08 – Every Morning
09 – That’s How I Remember You Best
10 – Truckstop Cowboy
11 – 1952 Cadillac Revisited

Totally Biased Fan Review: Chloe Styler – Chloe Styler

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I had heard her name. I popped into the Post Office Hotel to see who was on the line up for the TSAs and there she was. I heard one line from one song and bought an EEP before I had to rush off to the next gig. For those uninitiated, an EEP (Extended, extended play) is a production that is longer than an EP (4 tracks) and less than an album (10 plus). This is a six pack.

An elite array of musos and my “cousin” Simon at the helm, it was bound to be good. Chloe has the sweetest of voices and has amazingly written 5 of the six tracks with one of my heroes, Lyn Bowtell and one on her own.

These songs have a great depth. They are not poppy and bubblegummy, and as soon as you know the fabulous musos behind this fine young talent, you can understand why they are just that even more special. This album was recorded in 2017, so it is time for some more.

This is a fine collection of songs, with a young lass who has a very pure, enchanting voice. The songs are soothing and/or catchy. All of the songs are very easy to listen to.

When I saw and heard Chloe LIVE, she was accompanied by a bloke who has a little bit of cred himself, Briar Blundell…yes, Blundell. His Dad was honoured shortly after at the Golden Guitars, James Blundell. The people that she has around her, enhance her magic. I think that this young girl will be a force to be reckoned with in future years. Go get ’em, Chloe.

 

 

Tracks

Pass me by

Control

My heart is yours

Sweden

Think About Me

Storm Chaser

Produced by Simon Johnson

Mixed by Simon Johnson

Mastered by Jeff McCormack

Musos:

Drums: Pete Drummond

Bass: Simon Johnson

Acoustic and Electric guitars: Glen Hannah

Fiddle, Mandolin and Banjo: Tim Crouch

Steel – Michel Rose

Backing Vocals: Karen O’Shea

All songs written by Chloe styler and Lyn Bowtell except “Control” written by Chloe Styler

 

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Amanda Cook – Point of No Return

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I never question Kristy Cox. The woman is phenomenal and she has amazing taste. Amanda joined Kristy at Tamworth. New to me, but obviously, she is high class.

I loved what I heard, thus, I bought this album from her. Nice gal too, always a bonus!

As I listen to the album, I can see the connection. Kristy and Amanda have that same vibe.

I told Amanda at Tamworth that I thought that she was a Bonza Sheila…I am not sure that she got what I meant, but I think that she realised it was a compliment.

The songs on this album are of course, heavily grounded in bluegrass and simple country music balladry. Amanda’s Dad was a bluegrass man too, so it was in the blood.

So, the pure, gentle voice of Amanda Cook and the polished musicianship of her band go hand in hand. This is a finger pickin’ good album. It is easy to listen to, the toes are tapping and you mellow out.

It is one of those albums which let you ease in on the comfortable chair and think about the beauty and the presentation of such gently delivered sweet albums.

For those who get lost in fiddles and gentle guitar chords, it is an easy ride. For those of us who love some pickin’ and some sweet refrains, it is also a favourite. There are some thoughtful lyrics and interesting meanings….I have always thought of proper  bluegrass as mountain music with a touch of sentimentality. Nothing wrong with that.

I don’t know what Amanda thought of Australia, but boy, did she leave a great impression on those whom she shared a moment with.

 

Come back soon. We want to hear more.

 

Tracks:

Point of no return (Ashby Frank/Caroline Necktunes Music)

You Were Mine (Carolyne VanLierop/Valley Beautiful Music)

Time To say Goodbye (Amanda Cook, Carolyne VanLierop/ Mountain  Fever Music Publishing)

Good Enough (Ain’t Good Enough) (Thomm Jutz, sierra Hull, Andrea Zonn/Thomm Songs.

Calhoun County – (Carolyne VanLierop/Valley Beautiful Music)

Sarah, Dear – (Amanda Cook, Thomm Jutz)

Lonesome Soul – Michael Ramsey

Standing ‘Cross the River – Amanda Cook, Thomm Jutz

Two Acres at a time – Milan Miller, Thomm Jutz

My favourite memory – Merle Haggard

Will you be leaving – John Pennell

Musos:

Amanda Cook – Lead Vocal

Carolyne Vanlierop – banjo and vocals

Joshua Faul – bass and vocals

George Mason – fiddle

Brandon Bostic – guitar, dobro, vocals

Aaron Ramsey- mandolin and vocals.

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Harmony James – Resignation

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The last time that I saw Harmony James LIVE was when she supported Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell in Sydney. I have always loved her music. From small venues to big venues, from alone to supporting Australia’s best to International’s best, she has always been awesome. On the way out of Emmylou and Rodney’s gig, Harmony was packing up her merch and I waved to her as I stood in the cattle crawl queue going out of the venue. She smiled and said Hi Kaz, and everyone in the long line looked at me. “She’s the best.” I told them. They nodded. One guy pat me on the shoulder and said “She stole the show. ” He waved one of her albums at me _ ” I didn’t know her until tonight. Now I know her.”

Harmony has gone into a self imposed hibernation recently, or at least a different path.  When she announced that she finally had a new album out after a long hiatus – there were cheers and comments from everyone. She is a favourite amongst her peers and with those of us who are extremely intelligent. I guess it is what you call a cult following.

I don’t know the full story, it was a change-up, but whatever the reasons, I am glad that Harmony is back.

Such a wonderful team of musicians and great that Lachlan Bryan and D.Caf have a note of encouragement in this. I have seen Harmony support them. What a gig.

This is one of my most longed for albums. I can tell you country music fans, it is sad that we have had to wait so long, but my oh my, it is worth the wait.

 

 

Tracks:

Change

An obvious first up title for this album. A catchy tune with clever lyrics.

Grief

For a sad song, it is surprisingly upbeat. It really shouldn’t be that uplifting!

Little Kindnesses

Really the answer to all of the questions. This woman should be bigger than she is. How remarkable. She is worthy of any International and National recognition. Gobsmacking.

Anna 0 –  Harmony has put a footnote to this song _ Anna O was the code name for Bertha Pappenheim, a psychotherapy patient in the Freud era and one of the loneliest souls to put pen to paper. I really don’t think that I need to say more than that.

The life She Left – One of my favourite songs on the album. Harmony being Harmony. Totally awesome vocals and the words and music are just so high quality. Just bloody magnificent. One of my favourite songs of the year, so far.

The bed That you Made – This song is co-written with my mate, Eightball Aitken. You can tell that from the opening bars….I really didn’t need to read the credits! A bluesy, rich, head wobbling song. Oh yeah.

I can wait – A mellow start and a carefully crafted song. A gentle lilt and and a nice easy vibe. Another fave on this album. Gentle and sweet.

Concrete Shoes: Again…an upbeat rhythm with a deeper, edgey message. It is what Harmony pulls off best.

Can I Be That To You: Maybe something that she learned from Emmylou Harris. Such a sweet, beautiful love song. So tender and heart warming. At the same time, it is an honest plead.

Bird in The Hand: My first love in music is folk music. I think that this song fits that world. I am a 60’s Aquarian child, after all. I am sitting here in my Woodstock shirt, after all!

Harmony James is one of Australia’s ever greatest talents. It is so great to have her back, even if it is just for a little while.

All songs: Music and Lyrics by Harmony James except The Bed That You Made – Harmony James and Eightball Aitken and Anna O – Harmony James (Lyrics by B Papperheim (circa 1910)

Production Glen Hannah

Drums: Josh  Schuberth

Bass: Matt Fell

Guitars, Banjo, Percussion, Bass, Mandolin: Glen Hannah

Dobro: James Church

Backing Vocals: James Gillard and Glen Hannah

Fiddle Eamoh Mcloughlin

Mixing: ted howard

Mastering: Jeff McCormack.

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Clint Wilson – Dark Water

Clint Wilson Dark Water

I first heard about Clint Wilson through his Friday radio show with my friend and awesome singer/songwriter, Cathy Dobson. At Tamworth, we kept running into each other after a brief intro at the Spotted Mallard in Melbourne. We both have the same excellent taste in music – obviously!

He is a lovely bloke and I have been keen to hear his music. If Cathy Dobson and Gretta Ziller are involved, it had to be a positive thing. I was lucky enough for Clint to give me a copy of his album and I was very excited to hear it.

I love how people keep surprising me. I have listened to this album 3 times already tonight, and as lovely as my chats with Clint have been…….”I’m Clint, as in Eastwood….” this album is a bloody knockout. I love these songs. There is a mix of feelings in his music…If I die before I’m twenty is a mix of Paul Kelly and Johnny Cash. Other songs have a Bob Dylan feel, like The River Spoke to Me. I love all of these songs with a country or folk feel. That is me, after all. I knew that it would have to be good, given his connections and the people who are part of this album and after talking to him about his future recordings but…..well wow.

This album is so easy to listen to. Clint has spent some time at The Dag and I will see him soon with Benny Allen and Cathy Dobson. Obviously, I love his song with Cathy and it is so fab to listen to every song and every word.

The album does not give much away regarding songwriting credits or any inside information but it really doesn’t need to. I think that every song sounds very authentic and I am sure that Clint either wrote or co wrote these songs.

You can hear different influences on the album, though many of the same vein. There is some early Dan Brodie here, a lot of Paul Kelly and even some Redgum and Kevin Bennett here. There are some touches of Nick Cave in Three Nights in El Paso. I may be wrong, but that is what I hear. I could even go as far as saying a bit of Lou Reed and co.

There are lots of dark shades in the songs but there are also some rays of hope. I really love this album, more than I thought that I was going to, and I knew that I would at the very least like it.

It is hard to slot Clint into one category, and it really is not necessary. Good music is good music. I can hear lots of things going on and I love it all.

I look forward to the exciting stuff ahead, I have already been able to hear a bit of that.

Great stuff. Come on get out of the wind, there is plenty of room for a song.

 

Tracks:

Dream you were leaving

Odd Socks

The River Spoke to me

If I die before I’m twenty

Thin line

Fifteen years

Three nights in El Paso

Get out of the wind

Nothin’ to lose

I saw the lightning

Musos:

Beau Hutchinson Drums

Ben Franz Pedal Steel, Bass

Cathy Dobson Vocals

Clint Wilson Vocals, Guitar

Darren Hotton, Saxophone

Darren Trott Bass

Greg Hunt Violin

Gretta Ziller Backing Vocals

Jess McMahon Backing Vocals

Jules Vines Accordion

Lachlan O’Kane Drums

Olaf Scott Organ

Rob Muinos Bass, guitar

Zach Jacobs Guitar