Single release: ‘Can’t Stop Livin’ It’ by Kimberley Bowden

unnamed-4.jpgSongs can perform a variety of functions in a day, from reinforcing melancholy feelings to revving us up to consoling us, and many others. Sometimes there’s a song that makes you believe – no matter if your day has been good, bad or indifferent – that everything is going to be all right. It makes you want to sigh in relief or drop the tension from your shoulders. They can achieve it musically or lyrically, or from the combination.

The new single from Brisbane singer-songwriter Kimberley Bowden – who was a finalist in the 2008 Toyota Star Maker – is one of those songs, and the feeling starts from the opening bar – and that’s before you realise that message of the lyrics is, basically, that everything is going to be all right. Life can knock you off your feet but you can’t stop living it – and you can’t stop loving it. Says Bowden of the song, ‘I wrote this song in one of my darkest moments. But it was in this moment that I could see that things would eventually get better again, because they always do.’

Bowden also delivers the message in the way she sings – with a sense of seriousness of her message mixed with what sounds like a smile in her voice. There is not just acceptance but joyfulness there too. So that makes it not just the perfect balm for a bad day but a great reinforcement for a good day – and if you’re not quite sure which sort of day you’re having, it will definitely improve after you listen.

 

 

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www.facebook.com/pg/kimberleybowdenmusic/

Album review: Searching for Magpies by KTG

400x400bb-2.jpegIrish artist KTG (Katie Gallagher) has a voice that is impossible to ignore, and that’s why it’s the first thing to mention in this review of her mini-album, Searching for Magpies – because it will be the first thing you notice, and it will hook you in from the opening track, ‘Don’t Tell My Mother’, which then leads in to a collection of musically eclectic tracks, ranging from folk to soul to pop and rock (and not so much country, but sometimes it’s good to take a detour).

But here’s a suggestion: listen to the last track first. It’s call ‘December’ and it’s recorded live, just KTG and a guitar. While it does make a fine last track, it is also a wonderful introduction to KTG’s abilities and the emotion she conjures. You can then start at the proper beginning, run all the way through the varying styles of songs and still enjoy hearing the song again. Indeed, any of the songs on this album could be performed by KTG alone with a guitar and they would still be compelling, which is a mark not just of her strength in performance but of the structure of the songs.

KTG has said that the album is based on the old tale about magpies (one for sorrow, two for joy, and so on) as each track relates to one of the lines in the rhyme. ‘It was inspired by my fascination for magpies,’ she says, ‘and how paranoid I get when I only see one magpie by itself.’ And while there is a unifying theme, the songs can be enjoyed in and of themselves. For many listeners the album will be an introduction to KTG but she has been performing since the age of five. Now twenty-two, she is clearly an artist in command of her skills and her stories.

Searching for Magpies is out now through Beardfire Music.

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www.ktgmusic.org

EP review: Older by Simon Imrei

Simon Imrei (Older EP - Cover Art).jpgEarlier this year Victorian singer-songwriter Simon Imrei released a single called ‘Stand Still’, which was endorsed on this site as ‘easy to listen to’ – a compliment that is taken as a pejorative by some people but which is not at all, because writing a song that is easy to listen to often involves the ability to not only hone but ruthlessly edit melody and lyrics in order to produce something that is accessible to a broad range of people. When an artist produces something that is ‘easy to listen to’ they tend to be audience focused, thinking of the best way they can communicate clearly with others.

Now that Imrei has released a new EP, Older – which contains ‘Stand Still’ – it’s clear that communicating with an audience is a priority for him. The EP contains five songs that are sweet and bittersweet, thoughtful, and clear in what they’re expressing – and all of that applies to the music as well as the lyrics. Imrei has an ear for a catchy melody, and that is a talent as well as a skill. Imrei’s bio states that he grew up on the Mornington Peninsula, and spent his childhood ‘riding in the back of cars along tree-lined roads and through quiet towns listening to the catchy choruses and the pop sensibility of 80s/90s radio’. So it’s likely that’s partly what led to his melodic skills and also his ability to create songs that conjure that sense of distance and space that comes from travelling around the Australian countryside.

What that doesn’t account for, though, is his voice, which sounds like it’s smooth – although that implies smoothed out, whereas it’s actually full of nuance. It’s the sort of voice that could sing you the side of a cereal box and you’d be content, but that’s not to take away from rewards that are to be found in listening closely to the lyrics of this very satisfying, accomplished EP. Imrei has developed and fully inhabits both parts of being a ‘singer-songwriter’ and that is to the very great benefit of the listener.

Older is out now.

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www.simonimrei.com

 

 

Single release: ‘Let Me Be’ by Taylor Moss

unnamed (4).jpgAustralian country music artists are producing some great country pop. The McClymonts arguably established the direction of the genre (and, yes, we could have that argument but writing a blog allows for unilateral statements so I’m making one) and in the years since they released their eponymous EP in 2006 a variety of artists have emerged not so much following in their wake as expanding the genre and offering stories from their own experience.

Taylor Moss is a 23-year-old Sunshine Coast-based singer-songwriter who first entered a recording studio at the age of fifteen, and four years ago was a finalist in Toyota Star Maker. In late 2017 she released new music independently that led to a support spot with Jimmy Barnes and performances at The Gympie Music Muster, and she’s made several appearances at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

 

Last year Moss went back into the studio with producer Matt Fell, who worked on her original releases, to record some new songs. ‘Take It From Me’ was released in April this year, and now Moss has released ‘Let Me Be’. It’s a coming of age song, told through the eyes of a young woman making her own choices and living with the consequences as well as learning from experience.

Moss is creating great, catchy and entertaining songs – the essence of pop – as well as leaning in to the storytelling side of country, as you’ll find out in ‘Let Me Be’.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

www.facebook.com/taylormossmusic

Single release: ‘Reno’ by Sinead Burgess

unnamed (3).jpgIn 2018 Sinead Burgess released the wonderful, memorable album Damaged Goods. Recently she appeared at Country2Country in Sydney and Brisbane – her first shows in Australia in five years, she said – and showed why she’s worth paying very close attention to: with only a guitar for accompaniment, she had the crowd transfixed.

Ahead of C2C she released a new single, ‘Reno’, which is not drawn from Damaged Goods, which had a more acoustic-based sound. ‘Reno’ is a full-band recording, which allows Burgess to move into a more country-rock sound that compliments her storytelling style and subject matter, and detracts not at all from her vocals.

Says Burgess of the inspiration for the song: ‘I got the idea pulled up in front of a run down motel in Reno, Nevada. The rooms had these incredibly kitschy peach doors that look like they hadn’t been cleaned since the 70s, and I started to daydream about how it would feel planning a big life from such a small room. So much of my own story and yearning for growth and adventure found its way into the lyrics, and all of a sudden we ended up with a grungy, Petty-inspired song.’

 

The song was written with California rockers The Federal Empire (Grammy-nominated writer McKay Stevens and Chad Wolf, former front man of Carolina Liar) and recorded in Nashville. The writing and recording were part of Burgess’s Nashville Songwriter Residency Grant for 2019, awarded to her by the Australia Council for the Arts and offered to only one Australian per year.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

www.sineadburgessmusic.com

Album news: Liquid Damage by Harvey Russell

unnamed-3.jpgSydneysider Harvey Russell was the front man for the rock/alt-country Harvey Swagger Band in the late 2000s and played country-folk music in duo Peasant Moon. Now he’s released an album, Liquid Damage, as a solo artist and, in short, it is a honky-tonkin’ good time. Russell combines a musical thoroughbred lineage with a bucking bronco’s spirit and all of that is evident on this collection of heartfelt tales and entertaining tunes.

The album was produced by Michael Carpenter at Love Hz in Sydney and Carpenter appears on backing vocals, piano and other instruments. Russell’s backing band, The Widowmakers, also features Luke Moller on fiddle and Peta Caswell on backing vocals. Liquid Damage will satisfy country purists, thanks to Russell’s respect for the traditions of the genre, but even those who don’t know anything about country music will find much to satisfy them in these nine well-crafted songs.

Liquid Damage is out now.

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www.harveyrussellmusic.com