Single release: ‘Direction’ by Chloe Christine

unnamed.jpgOne 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 MusicSoundcloud | Spotify

chloechristinemusic.com.au

Single release: ‘Honey’ by Magpie Diaries

Magpie.jpgDashville 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:

Magpie Diaries .png

magpiediaries.com

Single release: ‘More’ by Cassidy-Rae

MORE Single Artwork.jpgCassidy-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

www.cassidy-rae.com

Single release: ‘Better or Worse’ by Gareth Leach

Gareth Leach.jpgSinger-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

www.garethleach.com

 

Album review: Halfway Home by Morning by Matt Andersen

71ay4hcxUWL._SY355_.jpgCanadian 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

www.stubbyfingers.ca

EP review: The Great Unknown by Jade Gibson

std_24974Singer-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

www.jadegibson.com.au

 

Interview: Jed Zarb

_DSC4151.jpgJed Zarb has had a long, successful career in music – but he’s only just started to release his original work. His latest single is the infectious ‘Hillbilly Cider’, and recently asked Zarb about the song, its video and that long career.

A note: this interview mentions Glen Hannah and was conducted before Glen died recently. Glen was an essential part of the fabric of Australian country music and it is undeniable that without him the shape of that music and the industry will change.

So you’re in the Blue Mountains.

Yes, I’m in Bilpin.

That’s hard to take!

[Laughs] I was just talking about that with a mate this morning. It was just such a beautiful, crisp morning with a beautiful breeze and a few birds singing – could you be anywhere else?

Particularly from the look of your video for ‘Hillbilly Cider’, it just looks beautiful. You had a great location next to home, but also you didn’t have to go very far so it must’ve been quite a convenient video to make.

Yes, and everybody was a local, apart from Pixie Jenkins coming down from Tamworth at that time and Dani Young coming in – so apart from the guys in the band coming from everywhere. But all the extras and the director and the cameraman were all locals.

And it looked like they were having a good time

It was just organically a good time. We turned up, we had an idea of what we wanted it to look like and then we made a few phone calls and got a few people and then, about lunchtime, we didn’t really have enough people to make it look like a party. So one of the camera fellows put out a thing on the Bilpin group – ‘free apple cider’, I think’s what got them there. Next thing we ended up with 50 or 60 people and actually it was just an organic party. People turned up, the bar was set up, the bar was flowing, the music was going and people were just dancing and drinking and jumping off a Tarzan swing into the dam and having a grand old time. I think they forgot there were cameras there.

It does show in the video, that people were relaxed, and it matches the tone of the song, which is of course a lovely upbeat, celebratory song in many ways.

Thank you. Well, that’s what it’s meant to be. It’s meant to be a snapshot of the local farms here and the local people, that’s really what the song is about. I moved into the area and just made observations and, and wrote about them in a romantic sort of way, as you do.

Of course, the song has gone further than your local area. It got the number one spot on debut on the iTunes country chart, it’s popped up all over the place. Have you been pleased with the reception?

Blown away – I can’t believe it, really. I put out ‘Mountain Man’ in October last year and that didn’t have a video clip, and that went really well and I thought, That was far beyond expectations. Then ‘Hillybilly Cider’ has come out and absolutely eclipsed it. So I’m just going with it and very excited that people like it. I’ll just go with that and be happy about it.

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