Single premiere: ‘Humming Chain’ by Camille Trail

Camille Trail_Humming Chain3000px RGB.jpgSinger-songwriter Camille Trail grew up and still lives on a cattle station in Central Queensland, and it provides the location for the stunning video that accompanies her debut single, ‘Humming Chain’, which has its premiere today.

Trail has long been a fan of the music of Shane Nicholson, and it is Nicholson who produced the track, which is an evocative, confronting and haunting song about slavery.

Trail has played piano since the age of eight, started writing songs not long after and recently studied songwriting at JMC Academy in Brisbane. ‘Humming Chain’ and the rest of her forthcoming album, Devil’s Drink – also produced by Nicholson – were written while Trail was at the academy.

She says that her driving force in life is her passion for music. ‘I recognise how powerful music is,’ she says, ‘and how it can help people, so if I have the power to be able to do that, that will also be a driving force.’

With such a powerful song to introduce her music to the world, she is well on her way to making a mark.

Watch the video – also making its premiere today – below.

 

www.camilletrail.com

 

Album premiere: Right Kind of Wrong by Megan Sidwell

Right+Kind+of+Wrong+Album+Cover.jpgEarlier this year Melbourne-based NZ singer-songwriter Megan Sidwell released ‘I Got You’, a single that provided a preview of her upcoming album. That album, Right Kind of Wrong, now makes its premiere here today (with general release tomorrow).

Listen to Right Kind of Wrong on Soundcloud

The seven songs on the album were written after Sidwell moved from New Zealand. Says Sidwell, ‘Over the course of these years I’ve met people who wanted me to change my sound and my look so I was an easier product to sell, and the name “Right Kind of Wrong” is about my own battles and acceptance towards my music. These songs feel right to me because they are my truth.’

Country music audiences expect authenticity from artists and it is immediately clear on this album that Sidwell is giving us her all. The songs are emotional and strong and sometimes defiant. They are more country rock than pop, and Sidwell has the voice to handle rock: it has depth and warmth, and great range, and there’s no danger of her disappearing inside the instruments. And it’s perfectly suited to a ballad like ‘The Chase’, where she is unafraid to show vulnerability inside that strength.

The album was recorded in Nashville and produced by Sam Hawksley, an artist in his own right who has worked with The Sunny Cowgirls and Adam Brand. It’s an album for those who want to be swept away by music – caught up in the sound as well as the lyrics. And it would no doubt be fantastic to hear these songs live – which you can do on the following dates (Victoria only):

Saturday 20th July – Album Launch – Grace Darling Hotel, Melbourne

Sunday 21st July – Little French Deli, Bonbeach

Friday 2nd August – Mitcham Social Club, Mitcham

Saturday 3rd August – Noojee Hotel, Noojee

Sunday 11th August – Inkerman Hotel, St Kilda East

 

Stream Right Kind of Wrong on Soundcloud

Find Megan on:

Apple Music | Spotify

www.megansidwell.com

Album review: The Maes

Maes_Website_1_AlbumCover_W310px.jpgThe Maes used to be The Mae Trio – and released two albums and an EP under that name – but the departure of founding member Anita Hillman has resulted in the duo of sisters Maggie and Elsie Rigby, their divine voices and their skills with multiple instruments: banjo and guitar for Maggie and violin and mandolin for Elsie. The Maes have now released their third album, which is self-titled and, frankly, sublime.

The album draws on various folk traditions, including those of the Maritime Provinces in Canada (as evident on track 3, ‘Head Over Heels’), which in turn are in the lineage of the Celtic music of the Scots and Irish immigrants who landed on those shores and have maintained tight-knit communities ever since. (For modern representatives of that lineage, look to Ashley MacIsaac and Madison Violet.) The Maes recorded some of this album’s tracks in Canada, some in Scotland and Ireland, and the remainder in their home town, Melbourne. The result is ten songs that become more beautiful and emotional each time you listen to them.

These are songs that are heartfelt and heart exposing and heartbreaking; they are sentimental in an open-eyed way, and often unexpected in the path their stories take. They are honest and vulnerable, and the Maes unabashedly use their voices to take us to those places. There is no point, after all, in writing lyrics that open a door to the listener if you can’t take that listener by the hand as they walk through.

The songs draw clearly draw on the sisters’ experiences but are universal in their specificity. It’s impossible to imagine that they would not be understood all over the world, and in decades’ time. Indeed, The Maes travel the world performing and no doubt they are welcomed there as warmly as they should be here.

This album is a gift, but as with all music it’s one that requires reciprocity: we have to pay attention and commit to receiving this music with the generosity that it’s been offered. That’s when we understand that is an album of riches, timeless but timely: in a bruising world, how rare to have this tenderness and understanding offered to us as a piece of art, and of craft, and in this time and place.

The Maes is available now.

Apple Music | Bandcamp | SoundcloudSpotify

 

themaes.com.au

 

 

Album review: Emma Beau

656cb945-568c-4a25-a2fb-76b9c3ce7596.jpgEmma Beau’s name is familiar to those who have paid attention to Australia’s country music output over the past few years. Beau is a multi-instrumentalist and singer who has  played with several other artists including Kasey Chambers. Beau has released her own music in the past, but never an album until this year.

Beau’s self-titled debut features eleven songs; one is a cover of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ and the others were written by Beau. It doesn’t take long to understand why she might have waited a while to release an album: to make sure all the songs were, well, perfect. It  is sometimes said that an album is ‘all killer, no filler’. Admittedly that expression usually applies to albums from a different genre of music … but the label certainly fits here. Beau’s ten songs are as beautifully constructed and executed as you’d want on any album, but almost astonishingly so for a debut, and not astonishingly at all when you remember that Beau has been developing her skills of all types – instrumentally, vocally, as a writer – for several years and in the company of highly accomplished artists. The standard that artists like Chambers set – the standard that is set, actually, by Australian country music artists generally – challenges everyone around them to rise to meet it, and Beau has done that splendidly.

A shallow listening of Emma Beau will suggest that the album is not entirely country – that the musical style edges towards indie rock, perhaps, or sixties rock, and certainly there’s folk there too. But a closer listening reveals the country elements in all the songs Beau has written: a musical element here, a lyrical turn there. No doubt Beau has many influences to draw on but like a thread sewn throughout a quilt, she’s made sure country is there throughout.

Beau is a storyteller who is unafraid to show herself to the listener, and as a vocalist she backs that up in every single line. She has a magnificent voice and she doesn’t hide behind it – it’s a tool and it’s a flamboyance, whatever the song requires. The voice serves her, and the song, not the other way around (sometimes great singers can seem to be almost in awe of their voices, letting those voices getting away with things that in the end don’t benefit the song).

That inherent musicality may be informed by – or have informed – Beau’s ability with several instruments; only she knows. But this is an album that offers so much to those who know music as well as those who simply want to be entertained. The time Beau has taken to make this album, and the care she has shown with it – along with producer Michael Carpenter – have resulted in a gift for audiences of all types of music, and a valuable addition to the country music canon.

Emma Beau is out now.

Apple Music | Artist’s website | Spotify

www.emmabeau.com

 

Interview: Ben Leece

Ben-Leece39.jpgLast year Hunter Valley singer-songwriter Ben Leece released his excellent debut album, No Wonder the World is Exhausted, and since then it hasn’t been hard to find fans of his thoughtful, and artful, songs. Leece is not, however, a newcomer – he may be relatively new to country music audiences but his love for and experience in music goes back several years and across genres. It was a pleasure to talk to him recently and find out about his album, his songwriting process and which type of music he loved first.

There’s been a great reception to the album. You must be very pleased.

Absolutely. It’s far beyond anything that I could have expected. Random messages from people that have found it and then positive reviews from people that I really respect. So it’s been pretty amazing.

How long before the release had you completed it? And why I’m asking you is to find out how long you were sitting in limbo waiting to find out what people thought.

The recording was wrapped up at the beginning of January [2018], essentially. There was maybe one or two overdubs that needed to be done by some other musicians, and mixing obviously, so maybe seven months with final mixes that were sitting on them. A long time.

In that time did you start to think, I wish I’d done X, Y, Z differently? Or were you just thinking, Oh, it’s done and I’m leaving it where it is?

I was pretty stoked. It exceeded my expectations. It turned out way beyond anything that I could have imagined that it would have. I guess it was just being patient with it and not to try and rush it out there. The thing is once you’re finished with something you’re excited, you just want to get it out there. So learning to be patient with it was hard. The biggest thing with that is I’d come out of this studio with Shane Nicholson recording it and essentially it was done. And then I went to the Tamworth Country Music Festival, so that was January 2018. And one of my gigs was playing on the floor of a Hungry Jack’s restaurant [laughs].

Which does happen at Tamworth, those sorts of gigs.

I was 36 at the time and I’d been doing music for a long time, and I’d just come out of this experience with Shane and I was on this massive high and it was this massive slump back to reality. And it was the worst gig ever. It was double booked, for a start. I was sitting there politely arguing with the other guy that was double booked about who was not going to play it [laughs]. In the end we decided to split it and the noise from the kitchen drowned us out. The two or three punters who walked through the door had zero interest in us being there. My capo broke in the second song. The power kept cutting in and out so I was fighting with the PA. It was the worst. I remember getting back in the car and just thinking, You know what, I don’t need this. I’ve done the record but I don’t need this.I literally got back in the car after that thinking that I was all but done and I got a message from my friend Tori Forsyth saying, ‘Hey, my gig at the Welder’s Dog has just sold out – do you want to come and open for me?’ And it’s just kind of been ascending ever since then. And that message from Tori is typical of this community that I’ve found myself in. It’s something really special.

And this year in Tamworth I know you played quite a few different types of gigs. I saw you perform at the Cake and Cordial sessions and then happened to head to The Press that afternoon, not knowing who was on the bill, and then you walked into that. I thought, He’s getting around!

Cake and Cordial was a great gig. I love Paddy [McHugh] and Megan Cooper that organise that. They’re great people. It’s good fun.

It was a great gig. I remember seeing you arrive before the start of the show and I
thought you must’ve been on first, but no, you were at last. So just talking about that country music community, I think part of it is that you all do show up for each other.

Well, I’ve got a connection to everyone on that bill. And it was random. I had no idea that was how it was being put together. Jenny Mitchell I’ve spent a lot of time with and I think she’s pretty special as far as songwriting goes. And obviously Paddy and Megan as well. And Michael Waugh – Michael and I had played a gig with Shane the night before. So it was pretty special.

Continue reading “Interview: Ben Leece”

Single release: ‘Dangerous’ by Catherine Gunther

4.jpgLast year Sydney-based singer-songwriter Catherine Gunther released the impressive single ‘Buried Alive’, one of several tracks she’d recorded with producer Jared Adlam. She’s now released another of those tracks, ‘Dangerous’. Gunther says the song is about ‘the complicated nature of feelings and insecurity in relationships, romantic or not’. And it serves as a warning: walk away before it all becomes toxic.

Gunther’s voice starts in a plaintive mode but ultimately it becomes commanding, as if she’s issuing that warning from a place of knowing – a place beyond that danger, even as the music swirls around, creating a certain sense of instability, if not threat. Perhaps the message, then, is to be eternally vigilant: even when you think you’re past the danger, you’re not.

Listen to ‘Dangerous’ in the lyric video below:

Gunther is set to release a new EP – her third – later this year. You can find all of her music on:

Apple Music | Soundcloud | Spotify

catherinegunther.com

Single release: ‘FOMO’ by Great Aunt

FOMO Single Artwork (Hi Res).jpgMelbourne-based folk/Americana duet Great Aunt have released ‘FOMO’, the first single from their forthcoming debut LP, So Not Right Now, which is due for release in November 2019.

The term FOMO, for the uninitiated, means ‘fear of missing out’, which can become a compulsion – that is, some people get so caught on the idea that they’re missing out on something that FOMO dictates how and what they do. In the single Great Aunt have conjured that feeling of compulsion through hypnotic slide guitar, heartbeat-like double bass and vocals that sound tentative yet defiant. It’s a clever, effective use of sound to reinforce lyric, and it makes for an irresistible song that, in its own way, becomes addictive.

Listen to ‘FOMO’ on:

Apple Music | Spotify

Great Aunt are on tour in Australia, then the US:

July 9, Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT Australia*
July 10, Folkswagon, Sydney, NSW Australia*
July 11, Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD Australia*
July 12, 63 First Avenue, Sawtell, NSW Australia*
July 16, BUG Acoustic, Brisbane, QLD Australia
July 17, Element Bar, Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia
July 18, The Middle, Mullumbimby, NSW Australia
July 20, Hardy’s Bay Club, Hardy’s Bay, NSW Australia**
July 21, Little Alberts, Bathurst, NSW Australia**
July 25, Temperance Society, Sydney, NSW Australia
July 27, The Cambus Wallace, Gold Coast, QLD Australia
July 29, Hippo & Co, Canberra, ACT Australia
*shows supporting the Weeping Willows
**co-headline shows with Smith & Jones

USA Tour
Sep 8, Republic of Pie, North Hollywood, CA USA
Sep TBC, Americanafest – Sounds Australia Showcase Nashville, TN USA
Sep 17, The Starlight Lounge, New Orleans, LA USA
Sep 18, Stellar Beans, Lake Charles, LA USA
Sep 19, Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe, Galveston, TX USA
Sep 20, Dyson House Listening Room, Baton Rouge, LA USA
Sep 21, The Listening Room of Mobile, Mobile, AL USA
Sep 24, The All Star Covered Dish Country Jamboree, New Orleans, LA USA Sep
26, Driftless Books and Music, Viroqua, WI USA
Sep 28, Uncommon Ground, Chicago (Edgewater), IL USA
More dates TBA.

Upcoming Festival Appearances
Oct 4, Deni Ute Muster Festival, Deniliquin NSW Australia
Nov 15 & 16, Healesville Music Festival, Healesville VIC Australia

Australian Spring/Summer Tour
November 30, MONA, Hobart, TAS Australia
November 30, When She Believes Showcase, Launceston, TAS Australia
Nov 31, Marakoopa Café, Mayberry, TAS

 

www.greatauntmusic.com