Single release: ‘My Fire’ by Jody Direen

unnamed-9Jody Direen is a singer-songwriter from New Zealand who has spent quite a bit of time in Australia since she released her second album Shake Up in 2016, joining the Wolfe Brothers on tour and appearing at the inaugural Country2Country Festival last year. Direen is an exciting live performer who is also committed to managing all facets of her life in music, and that balance of professionalism and dynamism has won her many fans.

Direen has recorded a new album, Smoking Ashes, due for release in July, and for those fans the release is much anticipated – so they’ll be very pleased with her new single, ‘My Fire’.

Says Direen of the song, ‘”My Fire” is an empowering song with a global message; encouraging strength, resilience when life knocks you down. I wrote this over the past two years, pulling together and drawing inspiration from various personal experiences of hardships that we all experience. Coincidentally, this song’s release couldn’t come at a better time than now. To the listeners: I hope it helps instil strength and replaces any feelings of anxiety and stress (caused by the current global crisis) with that of no-fear and hope.’

 

‘My Fire’ is out now through ABC Music/Universal.

Listen on/buy from:

Apple Music | iTunes

 

www.jodydireen.com

Album review: Golden Exile by James Thomson

Hi-Res Album Cover (300 DPI)No doubt it’s an accident of fate that some of the music released this month can slot into the ‘self-care’ category but let’s just be thankful that the planets have lined up that way, and add the new album by singer-songwriter James Thomson to the list. Golden Exile is the third album from the Newcastle (NSW) musician and it could have been designed to make you feel more content with staying home and letting it musically rock you in its arms, not because it will put you to sleep but because it will give you that feeling, for a little while, that everything is just fine.

Thomson has influences from American folk, rock and country, including Bob Dylan and Neil Young, and they’re evident in the laidback, spaced-out structure of the songs. Thomson doesn’t rush his listener into understanding his meaning, or picking up the story – each song is given time. Yet repeated listening makes it clear that Thomson is actually a really tight songwriter and performer. For all the feeling of space and time, on closer listening these songs are precisely written and Thomson hits his mark each time. The performance side of this was no doubt aided by producer Roger Bergodaz and the musicians who performed live on the album with Thomson, including the stellar Tracy McNeil, Sean McMahon, Steve Hadley, Shane Riley and Ezra Lee. On the writing side it means that the songs were ready – not overworked or undercooked – so that the album could be recorded in six days and still offer that sense of unhurried openness.

The album feels like an invitation to the listener to step inside Thomson’s world and just be – and this is part of what makes it excellent for the aforementioned self-care. An artist who has done the hard work for us also tends not to ask too much of us, in the nicest possible way. He’s taking care of us and all he wants us to do is listen. There can be few things more luxurious, and freeing, than to be offered that experience at a time when our brains are crowded and emotions singed. So one of the best things you can do for yourself right now is put on this album, lie down, imagine yourself in a convertible on a wide open road, feel the wind in your hair and the sense of promise that the road ahead hints at – because this album sounds like it was made for just that experience – then be grateful for the experience and try to repeat it as often as possible.

Golden Exile is out now.

Listen on/buy from:

Apple Music | iTunes

www.jamesthomsonmusic.net

 

 

 

Single release: ‘Fighting for Air’ by The Little Lord Street Band

LLSB_FightingForAir_3000x3000The Little Lord Street Band is a five-piece alt country band from Western Australia who have played hundreds of stages across Australia over the past five years. They have released three EPs, the latest in 2018 (Waking Up Next to You). 

Their latest single is ‘Fighting for Air’. Says frontwoman Tash Shanks of the song’s powerful lyrics, ‘I wrote this song about four years ago when I was really struggling with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. I was paranoid about everything to do with my friends, family, workplace and music. I couldn’t escape this feeling of dread. It honestly felt like I couldn’t breathe . . . or function as a human. When I’m out surfing with my family and found when I’m caught in the impact zone, the panic in fighting for air isn’t too dissimilar to on land with mental health.’

Shanks hopes the song will encourage others to seek help for their mental health struggles – as she did – and know they’re not alone. Given that many people who are now self-isolating or simply separated from colleagues, friends and family by circumstance, this song’s purpose is more important than ever.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes

www.thelittlelordstreetband.com

 

Single release: ‘I Found Home’ by Raechel Whitchurch

unnamed-8Singer-songwriter Raechel Whitchurch released an EP in 2016, Outlaw, that debuted at number 1 on the iTunes country music chart and took her around Australia, playing shows. She has shared stages with artists such as Fanny Lumsden, Shane Nicholson, Wendy Matthews and Felicity Urquhart.

Since then Whitchurch has been writing songs for her debut album, which will be released later this year. Writing songs is something Whitchurch has been doing since she was a child. She started playing piano at the age of five then at eight swapped it for a mandolin, soon followed by guitar, banjo – and songwriting.

‘I Found Home’ is the first single from the album, and it is a love song that isn’t necessarily romantic – it’s about finding belonging with someone. Life can take in all sorts of experiences and take you all sorts of places, but it’s a person who can be home. It is a beautifully constructed piece of country pop that will connect Whitchurch to new fans, and which is accompanied by a transporting video shot around St Albans, northwest of Sydney.

 

Listen on/buy from:

Apple Music | iTunes

 

www.raechelwhitchurch.com

 

New playlist: introduction to Australian country music

The reason why I have spent several years covering Australian country music on this website is simple: I listen to all types of music, but I believe Australian country music artists produce songs of an incredibly high standard lyrically and musically, and they do it consistently. The industry is excellent. Its artists should receive a lot more radio airplay than they do. And people around the nation – around the world – should know who they are.

The Australian country music industry – like every performance-based industry around the world right now – has been affected by the immediate disappearance of live shows. The good part is that the music is available everywhere, and many of us are going to be stuck at home for a while looking for distractions, so it’s a great opportunity to discover new music.

The following playlist is by no means prescriptive. It’s an introduction to Australian country music for those who may not know much about it, or know only a portion of it. It contains only artists who are currently working in the industry and who can be classified as emerged, rather than emerging. The songs are listed after the Spotify player.

 

 

 

Amber Lawrence – ‘The Man Across the Street’

Andrew Swift & Gretta Ziller – ‘Second Hand’

Andy Golledge – ‘Run to the River’

Ashleigh Dallas – ‘Dear Brother’

Beccy Cole – ‘Blackwood Hill’

Ben Leece – ‘Villains’

Bennett Bowtell & Urquhart – ‘Weeds’

Brad Butcher – ‘The Old Man’s Gone’

Brad Cox – ‘Water on the Ground’

Catherine Britt – ‘Charlestown Road’

Fanny Lumsden – ‘Land of Gold’

Felicity Urquhart – ‘So Go On’

Harmony James – ‘Home’

Hayley Marsten – ‘Wendy’

Kasey Chambers – ‘I Would Do’

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes – ‘Big Fish’

Lee Kernaghan – ‘High Country’

Luke O’Shea – ‘Happy Australia Day’

Lyn Bowtell – ‘The Willow Tree’

The McClymonts – ‘This Ain’t Over’

Shane Nicholson – ‘Long Time Coming’

Tania Kernaghan – ‘Where the Murray Meets the Darling’

The Weeping Willows – ‘Devil’s Road’

The Wolfe Brothers – ‘Country Heart’

Troy Cassar-Daley – ‘Born to Survive’

Single release: ‘Love is the Loneliest Place’ by Emily Soon

Love Is The Loneliest Place artWell, now, this song is one of the best things that is going to happen to you today, this month, this year and no doubt for a very long time.

Emily Soon is a singer-songwriter from Melbourne who blends country music and soul, with the voice of a torch singer that also evinces a touching vulnerability. Her latest single is ‘Love is the Loneliest Place’ and it is a captivating, soaring and also heart-rending exploration of the human condition. As with her previous single, ‘Good Help is Hard to Find’, Soon teamed with producer Henry Wagons to record the single, and it was done live with a band at Wagons’s home studio on the Mornington Peninsula.

Soon wrote the song a while ago, and views it as a milestone in her creative and personal growth. ‘I wrote [the song] in my very early 20s,’ she says, ‘reflecting on a friend’s break up and the real powerful, raw image of their sadness and exhaustion … I’d never experienced those feelings. The song helped me to comprehend the situation as best as I could, also becoming a lesson for myself on the importance of empathy, patience and time.’

Soon is an Australian-born Malaysian-Chinese artist who has been creating music in her home town for the past few years, as well in Nashville and Toronto. While she had shows booked in the months ahead, it’s unlikely some will go ahead – which is even more reason to listen to this song on your favourite streaming service. Like me, you’ll probably just loop it over and over.

Listen on/buy from:

Apple Music | iTunes

 

 

http://www.emilysoonmusic.com

Single release: ‘Little Eyes’ by Rachael Dee

std_33412Rockhampton singer-songwriter Rachael Dee no doubt wrote and recorded her new song, ‘Little Eyes’, quite a while ago, so she could not have known that its release is so very well timed – basically, to provide something joyful in a strange week, strange month and strange year.

The song was co-written with Matt Scullion at the CMAA Academy of Country Music in 2018 and inspired by Dee’s son, Connor.

‘When you are in the presence of children, you realise just how magical their little minds are,’ says Dee. ‘”Little Eyes” is about being present, and seeing the magic of the world by showing appreciation and gratitude for the simple things in life.’

Upon release the song reached number 5 on the iTunes Country chart and Australian community radio has embraced the song, which sits at No. 2 on the AMRAP Regional Chart this week. The accompanying video clip was shot by Golden Guitar winner Lachlan Bryan at Connor’s kindergarten last year. It’s a song – and video – you should turn to whenever you need a smile … which will probably be quite regularly for the foreseeable future.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes

www.rachdeemusic.com