Totally Biased Fan Review: After The Rain – Luke Dickens


I was very lucky to have been to a preview of Luke’s album at Tamworth at Diggers and have the album before most folks did. However, it was like a coin burning in a little kid’s pocket, holding on to the right time to review it. Luke asked me to hold off until the launch at Young, and so I have. I don’t know if he was worried about how I would review it, but if his lovely fiancé had a word in his ear, he would know that I have excellent taste and only ever do good reviews.

Luke has kept us waiting a long time before releasing a new album. Life has got in the way, as Rose Carleo would say. I would say, it has been worth the wait. This album is just awesome. Consider the co-writers of the songs, for a start. Jay Collie, the late and great, Jasper Somerville-Collie, Luke Austen, Bill Chambers and Sam Hawksley amongst others.

Then there are the amazing musicians and Jeff McCormack…how can you go wrong? Luke is in his prime, right now. He is in a good place in his personal life, all the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fit into place and he has obviously worked hard on writing the right songs for this album. I have never heard Luke sound better, and the songs are just so well crafted and produced. There is something for everyone here. I really love the Sam Hawksley penned The Right Guy, where vocally, Luke is at his best. He has that bluesy, soul driven voice that suits this song so perfectly.

Bad Seed is a great way to open the album. It is pumping and upbeat. It will get you up on the dance floor and grooving. Nothin’ on You gets the shoulders shifting and has a real catchy back beat. Get down and dig it! Luke and I are both from small towns. It is a funky and toe tapping song. I am not familiar with the writers of Let it Burn, but they fit Luke’s style. There are a lot of catchy songs on this album and this is one of the catchiest. I am a 60’s Aquarian child and a soul queen at heart. This song, What If, is pretty much that kind of vibe. Luke belts this one out with gusto. I am not familiar with Nyssa but it is always great to hear new wonderful voices. The most “country” song on the album is Hung Up on You, appropriate, considering that Bill Chambers co-wrote it and Adam Harvey features. No guesses as to what song will be featured heavily in the Kazzies this year! Awesome stuff. The Big Bad Wolf strikes me like a male version of Peggy Lee. Wow…love this song, unconventional on a Country album but right up this gal’s alley. Radio Man is a great road song. I can imagine playing this really loudly down a long dirt road and tapping my hand on the window…the title track, After The Rain is one of my faves on the album. I am unashamedly a ballad girl. This is a cross between Jimmy Barnes and Paul Kelly. I really love this song. Forever Road is another favourite. I have always loved Jay Collie’s writing. This song is a beauty. Probably the most unusual track on the album is Snake Woman. I think that Luke said at his gig that this was his son’s fave. I like the rhythm but any song that mentions a mouse is a bit icky for me. It is an interesting song though. I have already mentioned the last song. It is just fabulous.

Thanks Luke. It was totally worth the wait. Just magnificent. Very proud to be a fan and so pleased for you all. A gem.



Bad seed (Bonnie Bishop/Al Anderson)

Nothin’ on you (Luke Dickens/Jay Collie/Jasper Somerville-Collie)

One Small Town ( Luke Dickens/Luke Austen)

Let it Burn (Travis Meadows/Tent Summar)

What If – featuring Nyssa Ray (Luke Dickens/Phil Barton/Bruce Wallace)

Hung Up On You – featuring Adam Harvey (Luke Dickens/Bill Chambers)

The Big Bad Wolf – (Luke Dickens/Luke Austen/Jay Collie)

Radio Man – (Luke Dickens/Luke Austen)

After the Rain ( Luke Dickens/Matt Ross)

Forever Road (Luke Dickens/ Jay Collie)

Snake Woman (Luke Dickens)

The Right Guy ( Sam Hawksley)


Jano Rix – Drums and percussion

Steve Mackey – Bass

Rob McNelley – Electric guitar

Sam Hawksley – Acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin and lap steel

Luke Moller – fiddle

Mike Webb – Piano and B3 organ

James Farrell – Piano (What if)

Dan Dugmore – Pedal Steel

Backing Vocals – Sam Hawksley, Jeanne Peterson, Joanna Janet


Nyssa Ray – special guest vocalist on What If

Recorded at the parlor by Matt Legge

Mixed by Paul Lani

Mastered by Jeff McCormack

Totally Biased Fan Review: Natalie Henry – Apple and Pride


Most of what I went to see at Tamworth this year was calculated. I went to see my faves and those that I don’t get to see very often during the year. I am, however, always on the lookout for folks who I have heard about but don’t know a great deal about or a surprise act that I find out about for the first time. In the latter category, it was Fred Smith. In the former, it was Natalie Henry. She stunned me. This woman is a wonderful entertainer but it is more than that. Her songs were right up my alley – slow, poignant songs which had so much heart and soul that my own heart literally broke and danced with joy at the same time.

I knew a bit about Natalie’s personal story on the way in but her songs tell the whole truth. How you want to interpret the truth and how you want to embrace the adventure and combined heartache and discovery and true north of the songs, is up to you, but I found the beauty and the honesty in every word and in every note.

Natalie has obvious similarities to one of my favourites, Melody Moko, and I applaud that, for if you are going to follow anybody in music tracks, then our MM is a good one to follow.

The best songs, like stories, are those which are part of the fabric of one’s life. A true and honest account of what is real and what means something, not only to the writer and the singer but to the fan listening in.

The songs fit like the proverbial glove, country in every groove, heartfelt and pure. It is hard to pick favourites on this album, they are all fine songs, beautifully delivered and easily writing themselves into Australian Country Music folklore, not only for their words, wisdom and melodies, but for the simple way that they touch one’s heart as you play them.

Enjoy – this is truly a magnificent album. Classy and essential.



01 – Apple and Pride
02 – Water over Wine
03 – If We Said Goodbye
04 – Who I Am Today
05 – If You Love Me
06 – Mona Lisa (feat. Dean Ray)
07 – Souvenirs
08 – Down South
09 – Think Before You Speak
10 – Lonely

Totally Biased Fan Review: Keeping Secrets – Ryan Daykin

Ryan Daykin.png

Two of my favourite people in the Aussie country music industry are Tamara Stewart and the late Karl Broadie. If they both endorse this young Victorian (you can tell why I moved here…how many rippas are there in Victoria!) – then that is good enough for me. On top of this, if Allison Forbes tells me that I will love it and Brad Bergen produced it, then what more is there to say?  Both Hayley Marsten, on of our up and coming young artists and my country music daughter and fellow Tamworthian, Aleyce Simmonds do duets on this EEP.

Ryan has elements of Bryan Adams and Keith Urban in his voice and style. That ain’t shabby. With iTunes, you don’t get a lot of details, but I am told that Ryan is a songwriter, so I can guess that he wrote or co-wrote most of these tracks.

Ain’t Gonna Miss Me opens up the EEP with strong guitars and rambling bluesy licks. It is a shower song in the making and a stomp track. Great way to start.

Like Wildfire is a neat duet with Hayley who has been setting the country music world on fire. Polished production here and a very hummable track.

Ryan has a very strong voice, a little bit Judah as well as the previously mentioned guys and very soulful. The Way She Loved Me is probably one of my faves, here. A track that crosses a few music types.

Arms Length is sung with my little buddy, Country Music Daughter, Aleyce Simmonds, so you know that I am not going to say anything but beautiful stuff. Sounding very Keithy here, and there is nothing wrong with that. How can you go wrong with a duet with Aleyce. Super track.

War Fair is a clever play on words and a powerful track.

Great guitars on Waited Long Enough. Ryan sings his heart out on this track.

I love all the songs and hope to hear more from this young fella. he is a powerhouse. His voice is big and strong. Brad did well with producing this with polish and fire.

He is definitely one to watch. Glad to be an honorary Victorian when I hear young fellas like this. Thanks Forbesy for the tip.




Ain’t Gonna Miss Me

Like Wildfire – (with Hayley Marsten)

The Way She Loved Me

Arms Length (with Aleyce Simmonds)

War Fair

Waited Long Enough

Totally Biased Fan Review: Something Worth Learning – Smith and Jones


I think that it is very apt that a Johnson reviews an album by Smith and Jones. Also, because I was raised in Tamworth and went to uni at Bathurst, it is apt too. The fact that two of my fave people, Michael Carpenter and Kylie had a wee bit to do with this album, and mainly because it is just bloody good.

My mate, Bruber and I downloaded this from iTunes last weekend and we listened to it and marvelled at it…so much that we played it about 3 times on the way to other gigs, and then we made sure that we were going to a certain gig next weekend at The Union Hotel in Brunswick:


I debated whether to do this review before or after, since I prefer to do reviews from a solid copy, but brother Michael Carpenter sent me the credits and I am much happier with that. The girls are also doing other gigs in Melbournetown and surrounds, so check on that as well.

I am a big Janis Ian fan, thus, as soon as I heard some songs on this, I said to Bruber, hey, this reminds me of someone. I went through Joan Armatrading, which is close, then thought, no, it is Janis Ian. If you plug into a Janis Ian album, you will get it. I am from that generation, so is producer, Michael, so he will understand. These songs, all written by Smith, are just amazing. Maybe folks wouldn’t think of Janis Ian as country, but she is folkish, and to me, Folk always came first, and is closely aligned with country. It is my fave kind of the 79 types of country.

There is not a bad song on this album. I love all of them, from the more tender songs to the upbeat ones.

It is great for a Sunday afternoon, mellowing and peaceful. I know that the girls are a lot younger than Michael and I, but they may know who I think that they are channelling. Michael always does an amazing job, and he covers so many kinds of music.

The musicianship is simple. There are no complicated or overdone musical instruments, the vocals are the most important thing.

Running from Something is slightly different to the other songs, it has a touch of Dylan to it…probably the harmonica, then it is turned into more of an upbeat track. The girls mix it up but keep it to the Janis Ian, Indigo Girls type of music. It is an album that you can play over and over again and reveal the levels of the songs but at the same time just relax and enjoy the vibe.

The quality of songwriting and vocals and harmonies on this album are pretty well second to none. Under the guiding light of one of the greatest in Aussie music, Michael Carpenter, these girls are just damn fine winners. It is hard to fault, and I am not in the business of faulting. Buy the album, go to the gigs, you will not be disappointed. You will be enlightened.

Breathe it in folks. This is music at its finest.





As I Am


Secondhand Heart

One Last Time

Last Night I Saw Jesus

Running From Something

Every Year Around This Time

In the Middle of the Night

Right Into the Heart

The Train Song

Love Lives in darkness


Totally Biased Fan Review – Holy Smoke – Ingrid Mae


On the recommendation of some country musos, I ordered a single of Ingrid’s and liked it so much, I pre-ordered the album. As most people know, I prefer the hard copy cd, which I will get eventually, but when you get an iTunes download, they top up the songs as they become available and eventually send you the whole album. I had just received all the tracks yesterday morning but had to go to work so I had planned to review it in full yesterday afternoon on this morning. I had Leonie McClure’s 2RRR show on the radio and who should pop in to the studio but Ingrid Mae. Coincidence? Omen? Maybe. She had her album launch last night in Annandale in Sydney.  With her talking about some of the tracks (until I had to open up at work) – it helped with writing this review, as there is not that much information around and without having the details from an album cover, the interviews help. If you look through the titles of  some of the tracks, you will see that some of them are quite quirky. That comes across in her personality (similar to Susan Lily and Melissa Robertson). These three girls have big, fun personalities but they also write songs to think about.

It was refreshing to hear her say that “We have enough songs for another album but we want to see how this one goes first.” That is a great sign for us fans. Ingrid Mae’s voice is like if you put Rose Carleo, Bonnie Raitt and Pam Tillis in a blender. That’s a good thing, by the way folks.

Her songs are honest, relatable and range from easy ballads to soulful, bluesy and rock chick tracks. Well written, polished and well produced.  I can imagine her performing these songs LIVE.  I reckon that she would be funny and energetic and entertaining.

Leonie sent me a message yesterday, asking if I was still listening. I was until the moment that I had to open up the doors at work. I really didn’t want to turn it off. You will feel the same way when you play the album. I have now played it 8 times.

There is something for everybody on this album. Paul Mac produced it, and no doubt played some drums on it, and he does a great job. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the credits, so I can’t tell you who played what, but I do know that Ingrid wrote all the songs, maybe some of them were co-writes.

She has a voice that changes according to the song that she sings. There are 14 songs on this album, something that is virtually unheard of these days. They are all different and all winners.

Some are big and ballsy, others are laid back and require a merlot and a box of tissues. The last song is a heartbreaker and probably my favourite. This is definitely one of my favourite albums of the year so far and there are a few shower songs and toe tappers on here as well as more mellow tracks.

Holy Smoke, Batman, this is a rippa. Listen to it, you won’t be disappointed.





Undoin’ the good


The way you leave me

As the Crow Files

I love the bends

Bring i

Saloons N’ Outlaws

New Squeeze

Hell Bent

Holy Smoke

Mason Breakin’

An Angel Said Hello

Totally Biased Fan Review: Man on the Moon – Written by Billy Bridge Illustrated by Leigh Brown

Billy Bridge and The Dish.     manonthemoonbillybridge

In July, 1969, a man named Armstrong walked upon the moon. I know that because Reg Lindsay sang it to me. My father played it once or one thousand times on the stereo. Also, I know that because I watched the moon landing on our old black and white tv when I was 6 and a half. 1969 was a fairly big year….music wise, for an old hippy like me, Woodstock happened. About a year later, Pa took us to Parkes and I sat at the Dish in a big leather reclining chair and listened to the moon landing again. So I do have some history of The Dish myself.  Also, it is one of my favourite Aussie movies, but we digress.

I met Billy long after a lot of other people in country music fandom did. I have reviewed both Billy and his wife’s (Bec) albums. I have met them a few times now and we are friends via music, our love for the Carlton AFL team and I live now where Billy grew up. We both have a love of this big, crazy land of ours and all of the unsung heroes. We also love children, so as a former Children’s Librarian and still someone who works in a library with kids and Billy as a Dad who has just written a children’s book…..the connections go on.

This book is based on Billy’s song From the Stories Through Time album.  I have included a link to the song on here. (Get the album though and you will hear lots of other stories)

The book is a good size for little hands. The pictures are how a child would see it all unfold. The words are the song that Billy wrote with an extra verse as an intro and an extra verse as a conclusion. The extra verses are great for the story, as they set it up and round it off. They also say what the book is about in many ways. Dreams that seem impossible but dreams that come true with determination and imagination.

It is a great little book for a parent or grandparent to read to the little ones, as a snapshot of Aussie history, world history or the promise that dreams can come true if you have a go.

I know this story because I lived in the days that it happened. It was a pretty cool memory. Kids today don’t necessarily know the story or Australia’s part in it. They should know it and they should be proud.

Dream on kids and well done Billy. Never give up on your dreams.


Totally Biased Fan Review: Replay – Sophia Chesworth


Despite reports to the contrary by so-called “experts”, the hills (and valleys) of Australia are alive with the sound of female country music. We are blessed at the moment with wonderful female singer/songwriters between the ages of 15 and 95. There are even some as young as 13 writing songs…..good songs.

Sophia is one of the young gunnettes (Kazism), and she is on her way. What a big voice from someone so young. This EEP contains five very strong songs, which some could brand country pop, but I think that it has more substance than that.

Someone dared to compare her to Taylor Swift. May they not rest in peace. This young lady makes Taylor Swift look like Minnie Mouse singing with the Chipmunks. Good grief, what an insult.

The songs range from catchy to heartfelt. This young lady is only about 17. She won some awards at 14. If she is this good at this young age, what are we in for? If I was going to compare her to any big American Songstress, it would be more like early Shania Twain.

Crushed is going to feature in my shower for sure. I love all the songs but probably my favourite is You’re A Thief.

This young lady is a powerhouse. I am sure that this EEP will be on Replay a few times on my stereo.






One Way Ticket

You’re a Thief

Totally Biased Fan Review: The Deep – Georgie Taylor


Of all the new female voices that I have heard recently, this young lady has to be near the top of the tree. It was no surprise to hear that she is studying musical theatre….or something like that. She has a very powerful voice that could go a few ways. I can imagine her in a musical like “Blood Brothers”, with her very sensitive yet powerful voice. She has a vulnerability that could come from youth or could come from the sensitivity of a songwriter.  It is hard to pick favourites on this EEP. All the songs are strong contenders.

Her vocals are very powerful, whether she is singing a slower, softer song or a bigger number. There are similarities to other singers, not just in country music but in musicals and in folk and pop music. If you listen closely to Love, Lust and Heartbreak, you will spot it pretty much straight away, it is almost a playful song, though about a kind of sad subject.

Georgie certainly has quite the range, not only in her vocals but in her styles. It would be a bit unfair to put her into one category.

A great way to end the EEP is Tired, almost acted out by Georgie, a little play in one song.

Splendid start for this youngster. Keep going strong. This song, Tied Down in Chains and Hey Honey are my three favourites.




Hey Honey

Lost at Sea

Tied Down in Chains


Love, Lust and Heartbreak