Totally Biased Fan Review: The Maes – The Maes

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Once there were three, now there are two. The Maes are sisters Maggie and Elsie. This album is amazing. If you like The Dixie Chicks, The Indigo Girls, Great Aunt and Smith and Jones, then you will love these sisters, as they are a fusion of all of them.

They are a beautiful mixture of blues, folk, and alt country. Great harmonies, soulful moments, songs that actually mean something and a relaxing tone that makes you mellow and think at the same time.

We are blessed in this country and indeed, in this state of Victoria with some beautiful singer/songwriters, who produce music that hits the heart and the mind and make the soul rise above the normal levels of acceptable music.

I am an unashamed 60’s Aquarian child, raised in the two hillbilly heavens of Australia and I have more of an appreciation of the new wave of country.

My friend and photographer, Darren Clarke put me on to these two and I am so grateful. I was partly raised and honed into the folk scene in the sixties and early seventies….I was actually a frequent visitor to communes in this time and hippies put flowers in my hair…this is my music, my home.

I can drift away very easily on this music. It takes me places where I feel safe, happy and secure. Music at its best makes you do this. It offers an escape that most of us need from time to time.

When I said that I was going to review this album, many of Australia’s greatest songwriters cheered and said, go for it. They all wanted to cheer these girls on.

Beautiful songs, meaningful songs and songs to mellow out to. Thank you girls.

 

Tracks:

Treat you better

Half Moon Bay

Head Over Heals

Driving Ali Through Mining Towns

Get your act Together

Sunrise

When I Found You

Tenderness and Alcohol

February Bride

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Totally Biased Fan Review: The Saint of Lost Causes – Justin Townes Earle

The Saint of Lost Causes (2019)

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When you are the son of a legend and named after a legend, unnecessary pressures are put upon your shoulders when you go into the same field as said legends. However, Justin’s last album was one of my favourite international albums of the last few years and I worked on that basis rather than his obvious great pedigree and name.

In his own right, Justin is a star. He has worked hard for the role and that is often the case in his situation…you often have to work harder for the accolades when you are in that position, rather than thinking that you can get handed them. Who would seriously want that anyway.

He has a great voice, a great songwriting talent and he is a terrific musician. If he was named Tom Brown, he would succeed.

Yes, we can bless our genes sometimes. Justin has great genes. That may have had something to do with it. Frankly, though, in this cynical world and in this ruthless business, that alone, just doesn’t cut it. You have to prove your worth. Of all the new breed, Justin is one that impresses me most. He, thankfully, hasn’t gone into stupid pop country, he is true to his roots. That is where the comparisons end. Justin is his own man and I truly love his work.

He has had to battle his demons, and they are displayed in his work. Justin plays my kind of music. It is part blues, part country, part folk. my three fave kinds of music. I can play this album over and over and his last one and just kill a few hours with joy and peace.

He would have done well in the 50’s and 60’s. He is an old soul who is not the same as many of his generation, which makes him both special and refreshing. He has that time machine jukebox heart and I like that a lot.

He is going to be in Australia soon and he is not just going to the big cities. I hope that I catch up with his gigs. He’s a trip and so is his music.

What I also like about Justin’s music is the subject matter. He goes in a few different directions and is Van Morrison like in his agenda. He is not one to stick to stereotypes or norms for his generation.

This is something different for your collection. Go on, you know that you want to. Press that button, go to that music store….hell yeah, it is a ripper.

Songs
The Saint of Lost Causes
4:51
Ain’t Got No Money
3:05
Mornings in Memphis
4:32
Don’t Drink the Water
4:41
Frightened by the Sound
3:45
Flint City Shake It
3:44
Over Alameda
4:09
Pacific Northwestern Blues
3:37
Appalachian Nightmare
5:37
Say Baby
4:30
Ahi esta mi nina
4:06
Talking to Myself
2:55

Totally Biased Fan Review: Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen

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So, many would be surprised that I am reviewing a Springsteen album on here, a country blog. Well, despite the fact that it has a Rock rating on iTunes, this is primarily a country music album. The album is called Western Stars. It features a horse on a wide deserted plain with a big sky.  If you look at the track listing, you see songs titled Hitch Hikin’, Tucsan Train, Chasin’ Wild Horses, Sundown, Somewhere North of Nashville, and Stones. The orchestration work on the album reminds me of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Songs From The Movie and evoke wide open spaces and a sky that goes on forever. There are some twanging guitars, a little harmonica and more than one or two dozen similarities to Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, one of the greatest country albums of all time and from someone who wasn’t really a country music artist. The album, in many ways, sounds like a soundtrack. The Boss has won an Oscar for his music in the movies.

It is not a surprise for Springsteen to follow in Dylan’s footsteps, he is one of his heroes and a big influence on his music. Similarities have always been drawn between the two. To be fair, Bruce has been writing about rivers, dirt roads, mountains, wide open spaces and broken hearts for a long time. He has written about the average, every day working man and their struggles for all of his career. The ingredients for a country song were right there all the time. Folk music and country music and basic rock and roll have blood ties. They are really part of the same family.

The Boss is a genius, whatever way you look at it. I have always loved him, particularly when he slows things up.  When I bought The River many years ago, that song and Hungry Heart hooked me, and they are both very country, when you listen closely.

For anyone who doubts that this is a country album, listen to some of the crap that America is dishing up today and calling it country, then listen again very closely to this. This is more country than one note of their bulldust. The Boss, you are now The Boss Cowboy, welcome to the ranch.

This album is a work of art and it will go down in history as an epic masterpiece.  Yee Haa!

 
Track Listing
Title/Composer
Performer
Time
1
Hitch Hikin’
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
03:38
2
The Wayfarer
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
04:18
3
Tucson Train
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
03:31
4
Western Stars
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
04:41
5
Sleepy Joe’s Café
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
03:14
6
Drive Fast (The Stuntman)
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
04:16
7
Chasin’ Wild Horses
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
05:03
8
Sundown
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
03:17
9
Somewhere North of Nashville
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
01:52
10
Stones
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
04:44
11
There Goes My Miracle
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
04:05
12
Hello Sunshine
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
03:55
13
Moonlight Motel
Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

4.18

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Spark – Amber Lawrence

 

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This is a happy album. This is written from a happy place. Amber has gone through some big changes lately, and the new book offers a new look at life. She has always been an upbeat person, but like all of us, she has been through some tough times and the songs have reflected the tough times. Some of her best work are the songs which are written about these episodes. However, it is nice to see her bubbly side go into overdrive on this album with lots of songs to bounce and do victory dances to. There are some realisation songs on this album as well. “I get it now” is an obvious one. When I played through the album the first time, I did not look at the credits, but this one stood out. Then I looked at the co-writer and it was Mike Carr. Everybody who knows me, knows how much I admire Mike. It was actually more of the content of the song that attracted me. Becoming a mum, a wife and juggling all the things in life that go with it, a lot of women go through all of that. It is usually not until they go through it that they understand it.

While the songs are mainly upbeat and happy, there are messages in just about every one of them. There is a definite bunch of shower songs. I have already slipped on the soap dancing to a few and they are catchy ones that get in your head and can’t be washed out.  Ambs has always had the knack of being able to deliver a few different kinds of songs without sacrificing any credibility. She has something to say and she is not afraid to say it.

She can make you laugh and think and bop at the same time. This album was produced by the guy that I like to call the echo man, Stuart Stuart.

The singles have been released in quick fire motion, with the anthemic Outrageous, the powerhouse, Heart and the forever stuck in your head, Hey. Every song on this album can be released as a single. Each song has that element of commercial cred. I think that it is her most commercial album yet. 3 will always be my favourite, with The Mile and Superheroes are close behind, this offers a fresh coat of paint and a different point of view.

She can get bluesy, raunchy, fun, danceable, and yes, there is still a touch of country there…..one of the 79 types. I love Everlast, it is probably my favourite and people won’t be surprised with that. Yeah, I love sloppy, romantic songs with a tinge of sadness. So sue me.

Hell to the Halleluiah is a cool song. I did a bit of shoulder shifting but the words are pretty awesome.

Amber is never afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve and tell us home truths. She is a very open person without being over the top and too dare I say it….Outrageous.  This is a very personal album, which all of her albums are to a point, but this is delivered differently.

Hey definitely has a lot of country elements. Bootscooting in my bathroom to it proves that theory.

While Amber hints about the past and her good and tough memories, she very much looks to the promise of the future and her happy present. Sometimes, it is obvious in her songs, otherwise it is more subtle.

In a cynical world, this album provides a lot of positivity. Good People is a great case in point. It will be a great crowd pleaser at gigs, I think.

I have every Amber album. I have been a fan since pretty much since day one of her music career, and I am a proud country music “mum”. The last song is sad and beautiful. A fitting way to round off an outstanding album. Well done, Ambs.

Tracks:

1
Outrageous

2
Heart

3
Boots Baby

4
Everlast

5
Hell to the Hallelujah

6
I Get it Now

7
End of the Tunnel

8
Hey

9
Good People
10. Round of Applause

The Single Life – Episode 6

Hey folks, sorry for the delay, have had a strange few weeks. First up is one of my favourite songwriters of all time, Michael Waugh, with This Song Reminds Me. If you love Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire, Matty Cornell’s My Soundtrack and Adam Toms’ song then you will love this. If you are of a certain age (like me), you will recognise the wonderful artists that Michael mentions. Top song.

Very excited that one of my fave American female country music singers is about to release a new album after a long time. Tanya Tucker is due for a new album, While I’m Livin’ due out soon but in the meantime, a new single, The Wheels of Laredo has been released. This is so exciting for me. I am such an unabashed fan. If you love pure country, then it doesn’t come much more pure than this. Tanya has a very distinctive voice and sound. I have missed her. New material so far sounds awesome.

Leonie featured a new artist on 2RRR yesterday, who has a unique and beautiful sound – her name is Ria Brcic. She is from out Camden way in NSW. The single is Home by the River. Holy happy ears, this is just stunning. Can’t wait to hear some more.

My favourite Kernaghan, Tania, has a new song out, called Better Worn in, one for all of us who are getting a bit long in the tooth but haven’t packed it in yet. Get on the dance floor and work on your boot moves. Go Tan!

I am reviewing Amber Lawrence’s new album soon, and the singles are coming in rapid fire. I think Heart, Outrageous and Hey have been released so far. This album is a beauty…all the songs could be released as singles.

Andrew Swift’s 5th and final single to be released from the Call out for the Cadbury album, Ball and Chain, written by Cathy Dobson and re-worked by Swifty is out and firing up the charts. Hopefully, we will be getting a new album from Swifty soon.

While I was away, I missed Jetty Road’s new song, No Heartbreaks. It is a good rocking, catchy song. Hopefully, this means a new album soon.

Please let me know if you are releasing new singles. Sometimes it is hard to keep up with them, I am more of an album person. Happy to promote cool country music!