What happens when you have an album full of really great songs? If you’re The Weeping Willows, it means you are able to keep releasing really great singles. The fifth and final single from The Weeping Willows’ second album, Before Darkness Comes A-Callin’, is ‘Devil’s Road’. Co-written with Lachlan Bryan – and with a video directed by him – ‘Devil’s Road’ is a classic country song of temptation and the futility of resisting it.
Hopefully the mention of this being the final single from the album means that the band’s members, Laura Coates and Andrew Wrigglesworth, are thinking of creating a new album … not because the current one is tired, but because hungry fans always want more! In the meantime, you can watch the video for ‘Devil’s Road’ below and catch The Weeping Willows on tour:
‘Devil’s Road Test Tour’ Dates:
Sat 6 July: Union Hotel*, Brunswick, VIC
Sun 7 July: House Concert**, Sassafras, VIC
Tue 9 July: Smith’s Alternative*, Canberra, ACT
Wed 10 July: FolkSwagon Cafe/Lounge*, Sydney, NSW
Thu 11 July: The Junk Bar*, Brisbane, QLD
Fri 12 July: 63 First Ave*, Sawtell, NSW
Sat 13 July: City Sider Diner* during ‘Hats Off To Country’, Tamworth, NSW
* With Great Aunt
** With Dave Diprose
Apple Music | Soundcloud
One of the results of the continued commitment to professional development by the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) and members of the industry is that artists of all stages have access to education and mentors, via the CMAA Academy. Artists in country music can emerge at any age; it just so happens that the existence of the Junior Academy means that artists in their teens are appearing with terrific songs, excellent performance skills and professional attitudes to their work (country music in Australia produces few amateurs, it seems, even if they’re in their teens).
Singer-songwriter Chloe Christine is sixteen years of age. At the age of fourteen she was one of twenty students picked from Australia and New Zealand to attend the CMAA Junior Academy. The next year she released her debut single ‘No One Cares’, and it reached number 8 on the iTunes Country Music charts and number 5 on the My Country Australia charts.
Chloe has been taking singing lessons since she was five, and started teaching herself guitar at eleven years of age. Now she performs regularly at pubs, clubs, festivals and other shows. She’s also released a new single, ‘Direction’, and given her pedigree it is not a surprise that it’s a great song, an accomplished country-pop track that takes its lyrical inspiration from her school life.
Chloe Christine is an example of what makes Australian country music so exciting and vibrant: she’s young but already a professional, releasing music that stands with any in the genre, and showing that a new generation of artists can mix and meld seamlessly with those who have been performing for many years. No doubt she has set herself a high bar at a young age, but there’s also no doubt she has what it takes to keep meeting that bar, and vaulting over it.
Listen to ‘Direction’ on:
Apple Music | Soundcloud | Spotify
Dashville is a name familiar to many Australian music aficionados – primarily as a festival that features the best of alt-country and other artists. Matt ‘Magpie’ Johnston is a co-founder of Dashville, and he’s also a singer-songwriter under the moniker Magpie Diaries.
Sanctuary is the debut album from Magpie Diaries, released in 2018, and it’s been supported by tour dates around the country. The latest single from the album is ‘Honey’, and Magpie wrote it after he passed an elderly man selling honey by the side of the road outside of Singleton, New South Wales. Magpie says that the man looked happy – ‘It got me thinking that this elderly man could be me one day.’
That happiness has influenced the writing and the recording of this delightful song, which is actually a love song wrapped around a message of sustainable living. If that sounds improbable, well, just listen. The key to it all is honey.
Sanctuary is out now.
Apple Music | Spotify
Magpie Diaries is on tour:
Cassidy-Rae is a Sydney-born-and-bred singer-songwriter who already has extensive experience, appearing at various festivals and studying at the CMAA Academy in Tamworth. She released an EP, Wanted, in 2015 and is currently performing on board Carnival Cruise Lines.
Upon release Cassidy-Rae’s new single, ‘More’, debuted at number 3 on the iTunes Country Music chart. It is a towering country-pop achievement, made exceptional by Cassidy-Rae’s voice. She says that the intention of the song, and its video, is to show ‘that we are beautiful on both the inside and out. People’s words may not have a physical impact, but they can change how we view ourselves internally. More is a message we need to hear.’
The song was recorded with Michael Carpenter, who is the producer behind a lot of great Australian country-pop and country-rock, and as Cassidy-Rae has just completed her degree in Music and Arts, Industries and Management, let’s home she has a bit more time to create more new music like this.
Apple Music | Spotify
Singer-songwriter Gareth Leach released his debut album Death & Taxes in 2018, and for those who haven’t yet heard it, new single ‘Better or Worse’ is a great introduction to Leach’s unstinting lyrics and heartfelt vocals, and his country/alt-rock sound. The song was a TSA Awards Semi-finalist ‘Best Alt-Country Song’ this year and, as Leach says, it’s about ‘dealing with living with your own high expectations of “what this life is supposed to be”.’
The song has what Leach calls an ‘outlaw guitar riff’, and that riff not only sets up the mood of the song but calls in the listener. That riff led Leach to go in search of a lyric that could suit it, and in his notebook he found something he’d written a month or so earlier: Tell me is it getting better or is it getting worse?
If the vocals sound like they’re coming from an authentic place, it’s because, as each Leach says, they come from ‘a very real and personal conversation that I was, and continue having with myself. For me in my own songwriting, music can either act as therapy or bring issues to light that I am not consciously aware of until writing it down.’
Watch the video for ‘Better or Worse’ below:
Death & Taxes is out now.
Apple Music | Spotify
Canadian singer-songwriter Matt Andersen has long had a voice that sounded like it belonged to someone far older, saturated in life’s experiences and prepared to share them. Since Andersen is now up to his tenth album, perhaps he and his voice are travelling in tandem – and on Halfway Home by Morning they certainly sound like a comfortably united pair.
Andersen’s sound is soul and blues and rock and Americana, and his voice handles all of those genres effortlessly, as well as being one of those voices that sounds as though it comes straight from the past, present and future. Halfway Home by Morning is 13 songs of emotion, honesty and connection, with each line made more heartfelt by the delivery of it – by Andersen and the outstanding band and backing singers who appear with him.
The album was recorded live in Nashville, and that energy gives the songs a warmth that could have been lost if each track had been recorded individually. It also seems to give it an air of celebration – not that the songs are all celebratory (Andersen does a very fine ballad), but as if you’re at an hour-long party with the best possible entertainment.
Andersen and his band are constantly on the move – no Australian dates have been announced in the near future, but should he make his way back to these shores, Halfway Home by Morning suggests it would a performance absolutely worth taking in.
Halfway Home by Morning is out now on True North Records via MGM.
Apple Music | Spotify
Singer-songwriter Jade Gibson has released her debut EP, The Great Unknown, after its title single debuted at number 1 on the Australian iTunes country charts. Gibson has a strong pedigree, with her live career starting at the age of fourteen. She has performed in pubs and B&S balls in Victoria (where she lives) and New South Wales, and in gigs as far from home as Western Australia. Both types of audiences can be very demanding – and there would have been more tough audiences in Nashville, where she’s spent time writing and performing. They no doubt helped shape Gibson into the strong performer who appears on this EP.
Given that Gibson has now been in the industry for a few years, it must have been tempting to release recorded music earlier – but the fact she didn’t suggests that she wanted to have as much education and experience as she could, and she was prepared to be patient about it. That sort of attitude often indicates an artist who is focused on giving audiences something of quality: it’s partly about wanting to do the best they can for herself, and partly because they’re paying the audience the compliment of not wasting their time. And Gibson’s work has likely greatly benefited from her willingness to wait, because there is not a single misstep in the five songs that appear on The Great Unknown.
These are country pop/rock songs with music that marries well with Gibson’s very warm, often sweet soprano voice that sounds as if it could suit multiple genres. Of course, the McClymonts have shown that lovely vocals can marry very well with loud guitars and Gibson’s music would appeal to McClymonts fans, and also situates Gibson as a strong emerging artist. She’s currently working on a debut album, and if she picks up the strands of this EP and carries them into the album, that will make for a very strong release.
The Great Unknown is out now.
Apple Music | Spotify