Totally Biased Fan Review: Warries – Fred Smith

Warries Fred Smith.png

Fred Smith’s Warries is a contraction of war stories.

I had the interesting pleasure of seeing Fred in Tamworth this year at one of the songwriters’ sessions at the Tamworth Services Club (appropriately).

Fred was one of my big surprises at the festival, it was the first time that I had seen Merilyn Carter rendered speechless and David Carter nearly fell off his stool.

Fred has you laughing one minute and crying the next. (He’s like Michael Waugh, that way. ) Fred has been a diplomat from Bougainville to Afghanistan.

He lists his influences as Paul Kelly, Lou Reed, Loudon Wainwright III and Leonard Cohen.

There’s a touch of Eric Bogle, Kevin Johnson and Paul Kelly as well as Redgum about his singing and songs.

I love You and Me – it is a song that covers so many bases, in fact that is what you get with Fred Smith songs. Sweet Anne Marie is a war story with a jazz beat. Radio Bougainville is almost like an island song – Blue Guitar is heavy on some neat riffs, Scots of Riverina is Celticish, Say A Prayer is almost Gospel. You and me is a soft shuggle with a mixture of reality, tongue in cheek humour and it is almost a love song.  Independence Park is a somber song. Going Home is what you may expect…and a favourite of mine on the album – the bittersweet story/mixed feelings of leaving a war zone and going home.  Derapet is a war memory in Redgum style – a 7 minute epic.

Live, Fred has no filter, he tells it like it is, apart from some obvious military censorship, but he doesn’t hold back much.

It is the same with his albums and I’m guessing that the book that he wrote is probably warts and all too.

Century Girl is a whirlwind trip through a centure of historic moments and changes.

There are songs on here that Fred (Iain Campbell Smith) figures serve as a sequel to his last album – songs that he left off.

I like both albums, but I think that this one is a touch more creative.

Fred is a unique artist. We need more like him.

Scots of the Riverina

Blue Guitar

Say a Prayer

Sweet Anne Marie

You and Me

Radio Bougainville

Independence Park

Century Girl

Totally Biased Fan Review: Mountains of Gold – Karen Craigie


This album is Karen’s first attempt at Country Music. She has a touch of the Fanny Lumsden’s about her voice and even in her songwriting.

Matt Fell, Wunderkind, is behind this album and Karen wrote all of the songs.

Luke Moller, Josh Schuberth, Matt Fell and Glen Hannah play on the album.

Lonely Town was the first single off the album and spent 7 weeks on the Top 40 country charts. So Long received overseas recognition. It was featured in a tv series: Friday Night Lights.

Country Update described her music as ‘a study in alt. country sensibility wedded to intoxicating pop heart’.

She was described by the Courier Mail as similar to Sharon O’Neill and Wendy Matthews – high praise. I will still stick to Fanny.

As beautiful as her voice is I am more impressed with her songwriting.

I like Rocking Magpie’s lead line: 10 sad Australiana songs to make you happy.

In that same review, it is mentioned that Karen figures herself as a songwriter who sings. While I would credit her first as a songwriter, she is definitely a fine singer.

I like this album. Full of good songs, well written, well sung and beautifully produced.



Little Heartbreaker

Kill Me Now

Bottom Line

Mountains of Gold


Game Face

Happy Ending

Lonely Town

So Long

Till It Gets Done




Totally Biased Fan Review: Second Wind: Latest and Greatest – Darryl Worley


This is an interesting collection of songs from one of the most intriguing country music artists. He has signed for four record labels, three closing on him (hopefully, it is fourth time lucky!)

Worley is a restaurant owner and owned a boutique furniture store. He posed for a full frontal nude poster in Playgirl magazine in 2007.

He took a step back in 2008 to help look after his daughter from his second and current marriage. He is now back recording.


On one review it says 8 of Worley’s biggest hits and 7 new ones. I counted ten big hits and five new ones (I have 10 on previous albums).

He did explain, however, why he left out a lot of his big hits – “We picked the hits for this project based on the order that they came in because there will be a Vol 2 of my greatest hits.”

He appeared with John Stone and Aussies: Adam Harvey, Travis Collins, Ashleigh Dallas and Darren Carr and Kiwi Kaylee Bell in 2016 festival, Tunes in the Tropics – getting caught in Cyclone Winston.

He toured Afghanistan after 9/11 and he is a regular on the 9/11 memorial shows.

Several of his songs, some featured on here, have a military flavour.

A song which split the country (USA) in two and his fan base was “Have you Forgotten”, his biggest char success. He wrote it “out of anger” and somewhat regrets his outbursts of emotion and uneducated outlook back then.

There are some much loved songs on here: Tennessee River Run, I miss my friend, When you need my love, etc.

Darryl has mellowed a bit in those years. He is older and wiser and has travelled and learned. he went through a few rough patches – some which have helped in his writing and he has had more different looks than any other male in American country music history.

He seems to have bounced back and whith this fourth label, he is ready with plans for the future and more new albums and remixes of his older songs.

His songs are a mixture of fun, happy tunes and war stories, broken hearts and drinking songs.

We haven’t forgotten, Darryl and we are glad that you are back.


Track Listing for Second Wind: Latest & Greatest:

1. When You Need My Love
2. Good Day to Run
3. Second Wind
4. Family Tree
5. Tennessee River Run
6. I Miss My Friend
7. Awful Beautiful Life
8. Have You Forgotten
9. Lonely Alone
10. Whiskey Makes Me Think About You
11. The Night (Sure Looks Good on You)
12. It’s Good to Be Me
13. Do Something Good
14. Running
15. Working on a Love Song

Totally Biased Fan Review: Felicity Urquhart – Frozen Rabbit


10 years between solo albums is a huge amount of time. It is not like my fellow Tamworthian has been sitting on her hands, though. Hardly.  As one third of BBU – Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart, she has produced two award winning albums. Subsequent tours, hosting of awards shows, Saturday Night Country host on ABC radio and songwriting sessions gigs at all major Aussie festivals plus being a mother to two young gals and wife to the producer of this album and one of Australia’s finest musos, Glen Hannah may have kept her a tad busy.

She has carefully chosen the songs for this album, thus that has been an effort in itself.

If you recognise the riff from the first song on the album, then you are a fan, like myself of Felicity’s Saturday Night Country.  Yes, that is the little riff that opens up the show.

Chain of Joy was the first of the teasers/singles that was released from this album. I think that this album has some elements of the joys of motherhood. In many ways, it is a happy album, with a few sombre moments. You can tell that she has two little girls.

The beauty of Felicity songs is that they are all very different. She often throws in something that you don’t expect, but you do expect it because it is what she does. She tackles different styles in her albums. This is probably the most “country” album that she has produced, maybe because she has been hanging around Lyn and Kevin and her hubby Glen.

There are lots of fiddles and banjos (I guess Felicity is playing the latter, I know that she can). Felicity has a voice that has often been described as “pleasant”.  She is probably the best harmoniser in the country, apart from James Gillard.  When they put BBU together, a lot of people, including myself thought that these three were brilliant on their own but how were they going to work together…the rest, as they say, is history.

The songs are catchy, beautifully arranged and produced. I hated the wait, as did other fans, but I think it was worth it.

Having the wonderful Shanley Del and Karl Broadie (another posthumous Golden Guitar?) on board with some songs adds another something special to an already special album.

The lyrics are light and playful on some tracks and more intricate and deep on others. Again, the harmonies are wonderful.  I love the songs with Shanley and Karl, and the Christmas flavoured  Bon Bons. There are some Australianisms on here that some folks from the Northern Hemisphere won’t get, but maybe they can Google those lines.

Cartwheel and Climb is probably my favourite. I love the simplicity and gentleness of this song. Lots to connect with and a little nostalgic time trip.

Several songs connect to her girls but Breaking your heart again is a bit more funky and edgy.

This is a fun album. It is a rollicking good trip down a happy highway.

And the girl can sing.





1. New Harmony
2. Chain of Joy
3. Frozen Rabbit
4. Where the Fruit Hangs Low feat. Shanley Del
5. Cartwheel and Climb
6. Bon Bons
7. Hopscotch Sunday
8. Speck Of Dust
9. Breaking Your Heart Again
10. Slow It Down feat. Karl Broadie
11. Strawberry Footprints

Totally Biased Fan Review: Raindance – Sara Storer


I remember watching what was probably the first television appearance by Sara Storer, I think that it was on A Current Affair or 60 minutes….it was not in the studio, it was in the great outdoors somewhere. The young singer was as Aussie as Vegemite used to be and there was definitely no frills about her.  It was refreshing, but I wondered how well she would be embraced by the commercial world, and for how long, given that she was not a ‘certain type’. If you look at the gals that she hung around with on the Central Coast, eventually, Beccy Cole and Kasey Chambers, for instance, they aren’t a certain type either, and the three of them have done ok…..I reckon.

Having said that, this album is probably a bit different to what most Sara Storer fans would be expecting. Yes, the songs are about a lot of the subjects that you would expect from Sara – the drought, the country life, her family, mateship, but every song has a different flavour. There is a different approach to the musical arrangements, at least that is what my ears are picking up.

The Genius Matt Fell seems to be experimenting a bit with this aspect of Sara’s music. Instrumentally, it is a very different feel. Don’t worry, though, Sara fans, it just enhances Sara’s songs.  Brother Greg Storer has a big influence on this album as well, as per usual. His contribution is fairly significant.

Sara also took a gamble by singing a song that isn’t hers, which is most unusual. The fact that the writer of that song, the legendary Colin Hay, sings it with her is also a big plus. The two very different voices from totally different backgrounds sing Next Year People with gusto and it is a song that could have easily been written by Sara.

The album opens with a song that has a sombre start but becomes almost a Celtic jig. It is a great kick off for the album. My Little Men is about Sara’s four sons, Harry, Tom, Billy and Joe. (The names themselves speak loudly of Sara’s down to earth nature – flash, modern names for Sara!) This is a beautiful, frank song about the character of her boys and how she couldn’t live without them.

Every boy needs a bike is obviously another dedication to her kids, and it is a sweet simple song that people will be able to relate to.  How Sweet The Voice is probably the hardest hitting song, though Hayrunner has some moments too.

Natalie is a lovely gentle song….a little splash of pink amongst the glory of blue. I am guessing that she is a niece. It is just so sweet. I can imagine a video. The pictures are very clear.

Fox will split the audience a bit. For anyone who has lived on the land, you will understand this song and this story. There maybe some animal activists out there who will contest it, but when your chooks get killed and you have to weigh up what is most important and what animal creates the most havoc and danger, you may change your mind.

The Captain is not the Kasey Chambers song, though it would seem fitting in many ways. It is a beautiful, Celtic sounding song, that Lloyd Clarke or Craig Stewart would be proud of.  Quite stunning really.

Someday is one of my favourite songs on this album. It is a song for simple dreamers. People who don’t ask for much but hope that those wishes come true.

When I copied the title of Jigalong Girls, it came out as Jiggling Girls.  This song takes a few listens. Mentions of the Rabbit Fence, running, covering up footsteps and you will get the picture, a very Australian story.

This is a very polished, well produced album, with a few different brushstrokes for Sara but still a great Australian life soundtrack and probably her best album yet.  I think that Sara with the flash name but the down to earth outlook and heart has come up with a gem.




“Raindance” – 3:44
“My Little Men” – 4:13
“Plough’n It In” – 2:57
“Next Year People” (featuring Colin Hay) – 4:23
“Hayrunner” – 4:45
“Every Boy Needs a Bike” – 3:37
“How Sweet the Voice” – 3:49
“Natalie” – 3:45
“Fox” – 2:40
“The Captain” – 3:16
“Someday” – 3:21
“Jigalong Girls” – 3:50

The Barker Family Band EP – The Barker Family Band featuring Sara Evans

The Barker Family with Sara Evans.jpg         TheBarkerFamilyBandphoto.png

Country Superstar, Sara Evans is joined by her children, 16 year old Olivia and 19 year old Avery on this 6 track EEP.  With covers of guaranteed singable songs, Carole King’s You Make Me Feel Like (A Natural Woman), Judy Garland’s Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams, Sara and Olivia alternate the lead. To be honest, at times, it is hard to tell the difference between the two, as they sing very much alike.

Avery is a multi instrumentalist and no doubt, provides most of the backing. Sara is currently working on a new solo album but she wanted to spend some time with the kids and work on this EEP which is obviously close to her heart.

By opening with one of Sara’s biggest hits and the title track to a classic album, Born to Fly is a good launching pad for this EEP.

At 16, young Olivia almost steals the show, leaving us all wondering how she will be singing in 20 years time. It is kind of hard to believe that Sara’s babies are now almost all grown up.

There is a definite chemistry and familiarity with the three, which is not forced or manufactured. It is pure and simple and sweet.

With the lovely renditions of old songs and some extra special tracks, this is a nice little package. We will no doubt hear more. The EEP has launched a tour that has gone a bit nuts, with dates being added everywhere. Sara might have to put that solo album on hold for a bit.




Born to Fly intro


Xo (featuring Olivia Barker)

You Make Me Feel Like (A Natural Woman)

The View (featuring Olivia Barker)

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Totally Biased Fan Review: Jade Gibson – The Great Unknown

My friend and radio superstar, Leonie McClure asked me if I had heard of Jade Gibson. I knew the name but I didn’t know the music. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, I don’t know everybody.

This young lady hails from Victoria, which is another reason why I should know her! However, she has been spending a lot of time in Nashville, and it shows. She has that old Nashville sound (circa 90’s) which is evident in most of these songs.

Her voice is a mix of Sara Evans and Patty Loveless, though she has other influences, I can detect these two gals in her voice. The thing that stands out about her voice, first and foremost, is the clarity. She has a real, clear, pure voice. It is strong and true and rises above the music and the lyrics.

The Great Unknown scaled highest of heights by reaching the number 1 position on release. It is a standout track on the EEP (more than 4 tracks, less than 10).  Her music definitely has a country lilt, with a slightly pop sound on some songs but it is definitely within the 79 types of country music.

Goodbye Little Small Town is probably the “most country” song on here, with a definite Evans’ feel. It is probably my pick of the tracks, but it is an enjoyable and fast paced EEP. It is over before you know it. The good news is that Jade is going back to Nashville to record a full album and she is touring soon.

This young lady is definitely one to watch.  Thanks Leonie for the tip.



The Great Unknown

Goodbye Little Small Town

16,000 heartbeats away

Words in your mouth

Start Again

The Great Unknown (reprise)

The Single Life – Episode 2



My young mate, Chandler Jay has released his very first single at the ripe old age of 15. I have followed Chandler since he was a little boy. His original song, ironically called “I’m Original”, was released in this last week. Chandler has worked very hard, busking and putting himself out there at many festivals, shopping centres and anywhere and everywhere. Listen out for this song. It is a beauty. Lithgow gal, Kell, with the very raw country rock sound of Coming Home belts her new song out. It is a toe tapper and shoulder shifter. Brooke Schubert, sings a power ballad with Here I am, to give you a full on country rock number. Renee Jonas does a re-working of the song that she originally released a few years ago on her EP, Butterflies. A beautiful song with a great voice behind it. Jade Holland delivers one of her best songs so far with Lives on the Lawn. Hillbilly Cider by Jed Zarb with Dani Young is a bluegrass, hillbilly fun song with plenty of shoulder shifting toe tapping moments.

Train to Godforsaken is the new release from Allan Caswell, a co-write with one of the other top songwriters in Australia, Michael Waugh. This is an event in itself, as Michael doesn’t normally do co-writes, but who knocks back Sir Allan? It is a train song, tick, it is about a line of railway track that I know back to front and I have had similar experiences on it. It is written by two of the best and it is one of those songs that just sticks in your head. An awesome song, one of my faves of the year, so far.

Jase Lansky promised me a new album at Tamworth this year, but for now, I am content with a single. This song is the mildly grammatically incorrect Hella Good Time, and it is upbeat and danceworthy. I can’t wait to hear the rest. Jase is not one to play every song the same way so in a Forrest Gump way, you just don’t know what you are going to get.

Likewise, NeillyRich have opted to go more upbeat and mix things up with Hey You, which is a very interesting take on a relationship. Cool song, which I heard in Tamworth, as they tried out some new rockier material.


Let me know if you have some singles to release and I will chat about them.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Honky Tonk Time Machine – George Strait


It is so wonderful to see legends like George Strait and Reba McEntire release new albums that return to American Country Music as we know and love it. Reba gave us a hint with returning first to her gospel roots, then releasing what she calls “her most country album”. George is doing the same.  This one, like Reba’s album (see review) is a a return to what George does best. It is very reflective of his original albums. He has had some time off, and maybe that was a good thing, he probably got to think about what he does best, and what is best for country music.

These songs are so country that you can smell the dust and long grass of the countryside and there is no bullshit about it, only the honesty of country songs at their finest and the torch and twang of what country is, was and always will be.

George is often crowned as the King of Country, filling in the boots of Johnny Cash and the like. He reminded folks of what country music was meant to be, and always should be, first and foremost. These are story songs, co-written often, with his son Bubba and other more well known songwriters of the finest country music ballads.

George’s temporary retirement probably helped a lot. He probably had some time to refresh and think about what he needed to do and do it well.

George has turned back the clock, and that is a good thing. He has introduced his young grandson, Harvey on God and Country Music and included veteran Willie Nelson on a track.

Long live, George Strait, and welcome back to the fold. This album is a winner with a cap W and something very special.

I have a confession to make. When George kept winning awards over some of my faves, I thought…yawn. However, as I have matured, I realise his value and I prefer his earlier music to some of his later stuff and realise what a great asset he is to country music the world over.

Welcome back George, and may you forever be on record.




“Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” (George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon)
“Two More Wishes” (Jim Lauderdale and Odie Blackmon)
“Some Nights” (Bubba Strait, Brice Long and Phillip White)
“God and Country Music” (with Harvey Strait) (Luke Laird, Barry Dean and Lori McKenna)
“Blue Water” (George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon)
“Sometimes Love” (George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon)
“Código” (George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon)
“Old Violin” (Johnny Paycheck)
“Take Me Away” (George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon)
“The Weight of the Badge” (George Strait, Bubba Strait and Dean Dillon)
“Honky Tonk Time Machine” (Bubba Strait, Brice Long and Bart Butler)
“What Goes Up” (George Strait, Bubba Strait and Jeff Hyde)
“Sing One with Willie” (featuring Willie Nelson) (George Strait, Willie Nelson, Bubba Strait and Buddy Cannon)

Totally Biased Fan Review: The Truth, The Music and Me – Ruin, Recovery, Rising – Tamara Stewart


This album has been an adventure for both Tamara and the fans. It has been a long time coming, so much so that last year, she released the first five tracks as an EEP, called Ruin. Now, I figured (as was hinted at), that a second five track EEP would be released, called Recovery, and then a third called Rising.

However, in the meantime, all three have been put on one album collectively called The Truth, The Music and Me – ruin, recovery, rising.

It would be an understatement to say that Tamara has been through a lot in the last few years. Towards the end of the recording, she also lost her Dad, as if she hadn’t gone through enough trials and tribulations. It has been a rollercoaster ride for Tamara, with some extreme highs and extreme lows and some amazing gambles, which have paid off in many ways.

As one of our chief Australian Country Music songwriters, Tamara has always been well respected. You would be surprised at the co-writes and sole writing efforts that she has had created. She is now carving a career in Nashville and she is currently touring England, so she is making some big moves. She still returns to our shores every once and a while, and hopefully now that the full album is released, she will be doing some gigs out here in Australia.

The Nashville influence is strong here, with probably her most traditional country music album yet. Yes, it has its share of heartbreak songs, part of her story but it does offer hope and a brighter future. A songwriter or any writer worth their salt, tends to write some of their best work when they are at their lowest, or going through a multitude of changes. Such is the case here, which is amazing, since Tamara’s body of work is brilliant.

Her voice is as powerful as always, a true seller of songs. Like Reba’s album, you can sense all of the emotions and ups and downs in the words and in the vocals.  This album is not for the faint hearted. It is quite powerful and brutally honest.

Birds in cages was a nomination in the Kazzies last year, and it was one of my favourite songs of the year, let alone on the first EEP. This album serves as therapy for Tamara, and for all of us who have been through a tough journey. By the end of the album, you see that there is a shift in gears and the pain is, for the most part, worked through, despite some scars.

I hope that Nashville treats her well, appreciates her talent and rewards her accordingly, but please grant her a leave pass occasionally so that she can come home and share her amazing talent with us.



Birds In Cages

Broke My Heart

Piece of My Mind


His Eye is on the Sparrow


Dear Hometown

Haunted House

The Truth, The Music and Me

It’s time

The Rising

Love and Trouble

Face the Music

Late to the party