Totally Biased Fan Review: Raindance – Sara Storer

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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.

 

 

Tracks

“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

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The Single Life – Episode 2

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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: 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: 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.

 

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.