Totally Biased Fan Review: Two Sides of Me – Ian Burns



Before I reviewed Ian’s last album, I was told by friends and musos to listen to this guy…go and see him if you can, you will love him. The rest, as they say, is history. Ian has become a favourite of mine, on and off record. He is one of the most genuine guys that you could meet and I love his music.

This has been an eagerly anticipated album. As a teaser, one of my fave songs of last year was the duet that he did with my Sista from another Mista, (Melissa Robertson) and they even performed this song for me in Tamworth. It was a highlight of my festival.

I knew that Ian’s album would be a beauty, and it hasn’t let me down. With a great line up of musos and a wonderful producer in my “cousin” Simon Johnson, it is hard to go wrong.

I did get to hear a few of these songs in Tamworth and that served as an nice entrée to actually hearing the album. As most folks know, I love singer/songwriters best. I totally appreciate a craftsman, much like in any field, whether it be a builder who builds, a baker who bakes, a painter who paints….you get the idea. Ian wrote all of the songs on this album and that makes me feel closer to him as a fan, and as an admirer of his talents.

The beauty of being an indie artist is that you can have more control over your songs and how you want them produced. I dips my lid to Mr Burns. His songs are my style, lyrically enpointe and easy on the ear and you can feel the messages of the songs whether they are easy to relate to or whether they go a bit deeper.

His last album was pretty damn good, and it was a hard act to follow. I think that this one, though a bit different, is a pretty good match. As a songwriter, I think that Ian has taken another step up. This seems just a bit more of a confident work. He is growing as an artist. I have some new favourites, and that is always a good thing.

Best Friend is Whiskey and George and Jack are definitely two stand outs. Superhero is definitely a change in direction and maybe he is channeling his mate and my Country Music daughter, Amber Lawrence, and I love it. It may be on my list of shower songs for this year. Definitely a song that gets into your head…and your toes. Say Goodbye is a beaut song too. I love the fiddle and Mick (one of our best) Albeck is awesome on this track.

Ian is very well respected by the Indie Country Music family. He gets up on that stage and really enjoys his music and playing for you. I love sharing the joy that country music artists have for their music. You can tell from the moment that Ian plugs his guitar in that he loves what he does. He is very sincere and genuine and it comes through in his music.

I think that this album is probably more country than his last album. I really loved that album, but in many ways, I think that this is much more Ian and more true to what he wants to do. It is a step up, and the steps were already pretty high.

He likes to mix things up. The tempo changes, the moods change and everything has its place. The River picks thinks up with fiddles and a steady drum beat.

Love Don’t Live Here is an interesting song. There are a few layers to this song.

Ian has a soft, lilting voice. It is easy on the ear and uncomplicated. I haven’t heard Kelly Hope’s voice before, but I do like this duet – “If I Said I didn’t love you”. I am a sucker for this kind of song, and it is a rippa.

What would a country music album be without a drinking song. I am not sure that you could really call it a country music album! Ian finishes the album with Beer Drinking Song. With a slight Celtic feel, this will be a crowd favourite. A nice way to end a very welcomed album and a cool addition to any Aussie country music fan’s collection.



How ’bout you

George and Jack

Fool Like Me

300 Miles

Best Friend is Whiskey


Say Goodbye

The River

Love Don’t Live Here

If I Said I Didn’t Love You

Beer Drinking Song

All songs written by Ian Burns


Lead Vocals: Ian Burns

Drums: Brad Bergen

Bass: Simon Johnson

Acoustic Guitars: Rod Motbey

Electric Guitar: Rod Motbey

Electric Guitar: Glenn Hannah

Keys: Vaughan Jones

Fiddle: Mick Albeck

Steel: Michel Rose

Dobro: James Church

Backing Vocals: Ian Burns, Simon Johnson, Kelly Hope, Brendan Radford

Kelly  Hope guest vocalist on “If I said I didn’t love you”

Produced and mixed by Simon Johnson

Mastering by Jeff McCormack




Extremely Totally Biased Fan Review: Cornell and Carr – We Go Way Back

Cornell and Carr.jpg


At Tamworth, I went to the launch of this project. I am not inventing the wheel again when I say that Mike Carr is my Australian Country Music hero. Anyone who knows my taste in music or reads my posts, will not be surprised. Yes, my reviews are biased but I do hope that I actually have an idea about what I am talking about. I do like Matty a lot too. If anyone read my review of Matty’s album, you would know that I am quite a fan of him too. But Mike and I…..well, we go way back.

They have worked together before on the Outlaws project with several other well known Aussie country music artists and the subsequent tour. Their music backgrounds are quite different, they are from different generations, but to say that they don’t go together like scones and jam is silly. These two were meant to work together. Their harmonies, their obvious chemistry on stage and on record and a certain sock and slipper comfort between these two make this pair “meant to be”.

I like the fact that they are all original songs. I was afraid that they would go down the road of some others and sing covers. Both artists are fine songwriters….Mike the best in the country, so why do that.

I somewhat jokingly referred to this combo as God and his Apprentice, but now that I think about it and I have seen them on stage together, I don’t think that I am far wrong.

To see these two work together on stage was pure joy…they were having fun and so were we. The songs – 7 of them, which technically makes this an EEP, not quite an album in oldspeak, are solid. Beautifully produced by the magician, Matt Fell, it is polished, slick but not too slick and technically faultless.

There are songs here that will stick. I can imagine crowds singing them loudly and proudly. I am also glad that they didn’t go poppy or rocky. They are warm ballads and some power tunes but not too far from the roots of what matters in country music. The guys switch leads occasionally, with others both of them in it together.

It is very hard to pick a favourite. I really like them all. There are no two songs that sound the same, they have different qualities and all songs have meaning, which is very important to me.

This is a carefully crafted album. It was not just slapped together for a bit of fun. The songs are written with great care and heart. There are songs here that are almost anthem like. “We go way back” is a great way to start, “When you think you know somebody” is a great way to finish. “Be In The Band” was an obvious choice for first single and I can see why they did it.

If I had to pick, I would have to say “If you could only see me now” is a song that will be heavy on rotation for me. “Things I Leave Behind” is my other favourite. Two exceptionally beautiful songs.

I love all of them, though, truly. 7 great tracks by two of Australia’s best. It does my heart good to hear Mike recording again, not just writing and co-writing some of Australia’s best country songs and appearing at Tamworth each year. Matt is a great partner in crime and I love these two together.

It is quite simply…….magic.



We go way back

Be In The Band

A Town Like This

If you could only see me now

Help Yourself

Things I leave behind

When You Think you know Somebody

All songs by Matt Cornell and Mike Carr

The Credits:

Matt Cornell: Vocals /Bass guitar on A Town Like This

Mike Carr: Vocals/Piano

Matt Fell: Bass/Keys/Percussion/Uke/ and all sorts of other things…

Glen Hannah – Electric Guitar/Acoustic Guitar/ Mando

Josh Schuberth – Drums

Scott Aplin – Piano

Produced and mixed by Matt Fell at Love Hz studios Sydney


Just a little Tamworth ditty….

Small things amuse small minds. I had these words running around my head…


Ode to the Capo

Phil said to Lukie “your capo is shit”

“Yeah, I know it, yeah, I know it”

There are gold ones, and silver ones, black ones and blue ones

Every bloody colour of the rainbow

They’ve been left in the boot,

Left in a bag,

Left at home in a different state

Where’s my capo, where’s my capo

Next to “I wrote this song with Allan Caswell”

They all say, where’s my capo

It doesn’t work as well as mine

But I will try it and it will be fine

I think that it is back at the tent

I had it yesterday

I don’t know where it went

Where’s my capo, where’s my capo

I don’t need a capo, says the drummer

“Maybe it would help your playing too!”

The guitarist retorts

Where’s my capo?

In one of my ports

I have a spare, says the new bloke in the band

I’ll give you one because I am a fan

And put some fancy patterns upon it

A guitar looks naked without one on it.

Where’s my capo, where’s my capo

The sound guy has one down the back

The lighting guy drops one from a bulb

Of all of the stories from Tamworth

Of all of the glories from Tamworth

This is the one to be told.

Where’s my capo, I need my capo

The song just won’t sound the same

Where’s my capo, I need my capo

Without one, there’s no hope for fame.

Done and Dustyed – Tamworth Wrap – 2019

The reason why my daily diary stopped at the end of day 3 was that I had too much to see and do and not enough time to write! Overall, these are my thoughts and highlights of the festival in Australia’s country music cap, and my hometown of Tamworth. As I said in my facebook post, I have to stop beating myself up over not being able to see everybody and I do try to see folks that I can’t see during the year. It is also great to catch up with fellow fans in what has become something like a family reunion. Most of my days started on the 7.13 bus and finished at midnight, sometimes a bit before until a bit after. There were some must sees for me this festival. The obvious one is the launch for Mike Carr and Matty Cornell’s album which I will be reviewing soon. Thanks to my friend, I was able to go to the Golden Guitars, where the red carpet was awesome and I was able to witness Andrew Swift win two of the awards that he was nominated for as well as my fellow Tamworthian, Lawrie Minson, winning musician of the year. I was hoping that Imogen would win a gong but I was very happy for the legend that is Beccy Cole, winning for best female artist. The most touching moment was when Karl Broadie’s boys accepted the award with BBU for the collaboration of their late father with the terrific trio. The love and the support that I received from the artists, not just on the red carpet but throughout the festival was amazing. I do what I do because I love doing it, it is my passion, I never really expect anything back, but when a big star says hello to me or thanks me for the little thing that I do, it means the absolute world to me. My favourite gig at the festival is always Country Music Cares at the iconic Town Hall. It is the best line up and it is always for a good cause. I love the songwriters in the round sessions, especially those ones that mix my favourites with some new artists that I get to discover for the first time. I really wanted to see Matt Ward, and since he appeared with my little mate, Rory Phillips and Amy Nelson, I was triple blessed! I wanted to see Chalkie White and his show was awesome. It was great how he had lots of new young talent supporting him, including Kora. I missed my mate Benny Allen’s launch in Melbourne, so it was wonderful to be able to see him in Tamworth. Poor Benny, just about every gig that I went to, Benny was there. It became our joke for most of the festival that I was stalking the poor young man, though it just turned out that we both had the same excellent taste.

I was most impressed with the new Press Club 2340, which is in the old Northern Daily Leader building. Now when the old newspaper building was closing down, I was a might depressed, as it is an iconic building in Tamworth. I am very happy to report that I went there twice, both Allison Forbes’ Medicine Show gigs, (I missed the third due to a clash with Lukie) and it was marvellous. Comfortable seating, lovely intimate venue, not too cold air conditioning and friendly staff. Most of all, the décor is top notch and the music was splendid. Forbesy is always excellent, but the guests were practically handpicked from Kaz’s favourites too.  I got to see and hear Jen Mize, Montgomery Church, Kelly Cork, Megan Cooper, Ben Leece and Michael Waugh there. Apart from Kelly, I have reviewed all of their albums and intend to get Kelly’s soon.

Of course, I never miss Lukie, (O’Shea) that is, but I have never met a Luke that I didn’t like, and I also saw Luke Dickens (album launch, review soon), Luke Austen (with the Legends’ Lunch). Sally-Anne Whitten was awesome as usual and I was so glad that Sal and Al won awards in the ICMAs. Sadly, I couldn’t be there, but that would have to be one of my favourite things that happened at the festival, well deserved and overdue.

I always start my official festival duties by going to the ladies of country, and Gina Timms had a great line up again, including Sandra Humphries who had several farewells to Tamworth with her impending retirement. It was great to finally meet Gayle O’Neill and Clelia Adams, whom I have had a bit to do with but I have never met them in person.

The April Family were obviously on my to do list, and I had quite a front row position at their gig, almost claiming to be the 5th member of the band (Kylie’s hubby has to be the 4th!).

My air triangle got a bit of a work out at some gigs, as did my air guitar but I had trouble keeping up with 8 Ball and Alwyn Aurisch!  It was lovely to see Col Finley who spent a large amount of the festival in hospital. Chris and Michael were quite amazing filling in for Col at various gigs, they should be well praised for their efforts. The Bearded Blokes at Nia’s Songwriters’ Sessions was one of the highlights for me, spent with a good mate and starring Allan Caswell, Mitch Power, Pixie Jenkins and some bloke called Andrew Swift!

Another historical and sometimes hysterical event was the family reunion of Beccy Cole, Lyn Bowtell, Tania Kernaghan and the much welcomed return of the one and only Gina Jeffreys. The gig was sold out and it was on the same night as many big gigs, including that Keith bloke. I was so glad that I went. I was in one of the back seats, but I was there.

Another highlight was the gig that was on just before that one. Brad Butcher and Felicity Urquhart. It was funny, emotional and full with beautiful songs and a crowd who appreciated both of these fine talents.

I had to clip the end of the gig before those two so that I could get to them, but it was a beauty too. I have never been backwards in coming forward about how much I love and admire Melody Moko. With the fabulous Woman Enough – Americana Women gig, she led some amazing women in song. Megan Cooper, Gretta Ziller (whom I missed but I get to see all of the time in Victoria), special guests Catherine Britt and Tori Forsyth and I was blown away by Natalie Henry and some amazing young talents who also appeared.

Kristy Cox wore a cape for the whole festival. If there ever is a Superwoman of Country Music, this chick is it. She organized 100’s of gigs (it seemed like it), flew in from America with hubby Trav List and young Adelaide, 8 months pregnant in Tamworth heat and knocked them dead on the red carpet in a Peta Lawrence outfit (I think!). She is truly an amazing lady. All of the shows that I went to of her gang’s – Bluegrass, Great Country Love Songs and the first of the Tamworth Opry’s were wonderful.

One of my big surprises of the festival was Fred Smith. I went to see Carter and Carter at a Songwriters’ gig and Fred and Megan were the two other songwriters and both were awesome. Fred was particularly fabulous. He pretty much stole the show. I thought Merelyn and David were going to fall off their chairs from laughing so much. He had us near tears or speechless some minutes with his experiences in Afghanistan and then cracked us up with a thousand one liners. If you get to see Fred, please do. I had to rush off to another gig, otherwise I would have hung around for a chat.

Kerry Kennedy and Michael Bryers are two other faves who I try not to miss and they were just awesome as always.

It was good to see Kate Hindle, happy and healthy and doing really well. Angus Gill and I had a lovely chat and I am very much looking forward to his new album. My sister from another mister, Melissa Robertson hosted a cool range of talent, including Ian Burns, Kylie Adams-Collier, and one of my country music sons, Adam Toms.

Some of the fans were disappointing. Whinging about the heat – it is January, Australia, Summer….yes it is hot. Whinging about just about everything. People would have killed to have been there.

It was lovely seeing the Golden Guitars remember Rob Wilson in the In Memoriam segment and with Graeme Connors, Catherine Britt and The Cold Cold Hearts singing a Connors/Michael Carr song as they honoured those whom we lost, it was definitely a poignant moment.

It became the festival where just about everybody on every stage said the immortal words “This is a song that I wrote with Allan Caswell”. It never gets old. It is a true reward to one of the most gifted people in this country and a man who honoured me with calling me his friend and singing my favourite Allan Caswell song, Stolen Roses at one of the songwriters’ gigs. Ironically in the same round, Paul Costa sang my favourite Paul Costa song and Chris and Michael who were standing in for Col Finley, sang my favourite Col Finley song. What are the odds?

There were gigs that I didn’t get to, but I averaged 7-10 every day with more than one person on each gig.

Special thanks to Leonie M for giving me one of my most special moments, not only at the festival but in my life. I cherish my award, for mainly what it represents, all of the folks that I write about.

Seeing 8 play on a 2 string guitar, Mike Carr calling Matty Cornell Fanta Pants, Imogen Clark saying all of the beautiful things to me on the red carpet, the great moments with the Custards, (Montgomery Church), the love and support that I received from so many, with special mentions to my April Family and The Weeping Willows who sang a song for me on my birthday, to my besty Tracey Cook and my landlady and old and dear friend E.J for her generosity, and Shirley and P my chauffeurs, thank you.

I came home with a cold, so I have been a bit slow with the writing – but have reviews of Shanley Del and James Gillard, Mike Carr and Matt Cornell, Luke Dickens, Ian Burns, Chloe Styler, Clint Wilson, Bill Chambers, Michael Bryers and Amanda Cook coming up. Really getting excited about the future offerings from Felicity Urquhart and some others, including our Lukie O’Shea and in the post is Harmony James new album.

Despite all the moaning and groaning from some quarters, Tamworth was fab. I had a great time catching up with old mates and making some new ones, and seeing and hearing some great gigs. I haven’t listed all of them, but I will be mentioning them from time to time. We missed all of those who couldn’t make it this year. Congrats to all of those who won and were nominated for awards  – there were a few different presentations – and it has to be said, on every street corner, in every crowd, and on every stage, we spared a thought for Al Slade and Rob Wilson. You were there, fellas.

Thank you Tamworth, love ya.