Month: July 2019

Video premiere: ‘Company with Regret’ by Billie Rose Copeland

Billie-Rose-Copeland.jpgThis song is sublime. That’s probably all you need to know (hopefully) to press play on the video below, but in case you need to know more, here it is: ‘Company with Regret’ is the debut single from Billie Rose Copeland, an artist from North West Queensland and graduate of the CMAA Junior Academy of Country Music. It was written – with her singing teacher – only a few days before Copeland’s recording session with Matt Fell at Love Hz studios. Fell contributes all the instruments but it is Copeland’s vocals that star here. There are torch song qualities to her voice, and the marriage with this soulful Americana song makes for an unforgettable tune.

The song has been in high rotation on ABC Country and ABC local radio. Now there’s a video to go with it, created by The Filmery, and it’s a great pleasure to premiere the video for ‘Company with Regret’ here today – please watch it below.


Single release: ‘Hollow’ by The Earl of Grey

unnamed.jpgSome people seek out nostalgia: they are often looking for sounds, sights, humans who can help them re-create the past. The past, of course, always being a place that tends to look more appealing with retrovision-tinted lens. For some of us, nostalgia can be an experience that happens unexpectedly, and it can be welcome or unwelcome. It can also, somewhat weirdly, manifest as a feeling for a time and place that we’ve never actually experienced. In musical terms, it can take the form of a song that sounds intensely, reassuringly familiar even though we’ve never heard it before.

‘Hollow’, the new single from Central Queensland singer-songwriter The Earl of Grey, falls into that latter category. It has a sound of country music from the Kris Kristofferson era (it also conjures Glen Campbell) – emotional singing, sparse instrumentation, an easy way with a beat – and that’s the familiar nature of it. It also has a very distinct identity. It’s a flexible song, in that it’s as easy to imagine The Earl of Grey sitting on a barstool singing it to a small crowd as it is to imagine it ringing out to a festival crowd. That flexibility comes from an unflinchingly solid structure – what I like to think of as good manners, because structure is what helps the listener relax, knowing they’re not going to have strain to work out what the hell is going on – that allows The Earl of Grey to tell his story clearly, and with meaning.

‘Hollow’ is taken from the forthcoming EP Prince Charming, due for release later this year, when The Earl of Grey will take to the road in Gladstone, Brisbane, Sydney and the NSW Central Coast, and other places to be added.

Listen to ‘Hollow’ on:

Apple Music | Soundcloud


Single release: ‘Desire’ by James Thomson

image.pngSinger-songwriter James Thomson has two acclaimed albums behind him – and a third, Golden Exile, in his future. It isn’t a stretch to say that the third will be acclaimed, if the first single, ‘Desire’, is an indication of what’s to come.

Thomson’s sound has elements of laidback California country rock, and he has a crooner’s inclination in the way that Gram Parsons did. This languid, atmospheric track is an ode to new love and while desire is often associated with haste, the structure of this song suggests that it’s a slow-burning – and lasting – thing, as it adds layers and builds towards the end. The unhurried nature of this song suggests an artist who doesn’t want his audience to feel that they have to rush anything either. Indeed, listening to the song on repeat enhances the experience of it and thereby rewards the listener who is prepared to pay attention.

Listen to ‘Desire’ on:

Apple Music | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Spotify



Interview: Georgia State Line

What I Know Now Single Artwork.jpgMelbourne band Georgia State Line are relatively new but have already made their mark, in their home town and on the national country music landscape. Now they’ve released a single credited to the band and Patrick Wilson, who’s in the band but also the co-writer of ‘What I Know Now’. Recently I interviewed the band’s impressive frontwoman Georgia Delves, whose musical talents and knowledge are extensive, and found out more about the song, the tour she and Wilson embarked on, and the band’s plans for a new album.

You had a very busy time while you’re at school by the sound of it, learning music by day, singing in choirs at school and performing gigs at night. Was that exciting or exhausting or both?

A bit of both, actually. I remember looking back on that time and thinking, I don’t know how I kept up with a schedule that busy. It was exhausting, but it was really grounding for me. Coming from a background of classical music, especially for voice, as a singer, I really think it sets you up to be able to sing properly and know how to use the instrument. But I felt as well with the creative side of things, studying classical, it took me a little bit to break away and find my own kind of creative pathway.


Your grandparents introduced you to country music, but did you try a few different styles of music before you settled on country?

I definitely did. As a teen I tried out songwriting and thought, What the heck am I doing? These songs are so bad I can’t let the light of day come to them or anyone hear them. I started off playing in a folk duo and [then] branched out when I started to play more music with lots of different people and I moved to Melbourne and met lots of other bands and friends through there.


Your voice sounds like it could suit a few different styles of music. The classical training I can hear because you have such great tone and control of your voice. But was there anyone – like a music teacher, voice teacher – who might’ve tried to nudge you in a particular direction of music?

Studying classical I had a very strict, traditionally classical teacher, and I remember when I told her that I was going to move to Melbourne and study a contemporary course, I don’t think she was totally that happy. I think she was wanting me to go down the very classical opera route but that definitely wasn’t my thing. But it still is a really valuable practice. I think doing my own research and getting into different country singer-songwriters, looking at who they sought inspiration from and then tracing that back. I don’t think anyone kind of pushed me apart from the classical way, but I suppose it’s just a big melting pot of all the music that I listened to and enjoy. That’s what comes out.

Continue reading “Interview: Georgia State Line”

Album review: Travelling Salesman by Brad Butcher

Brad-Butcher_Travelling-Salesman_3000px-x-3000px.jpgQueensland singer-songwriter Brad Butcher has, deservedly, been the recipient of a Golden Guitar for New Talent of the Year (even if it was for his third album) and Country Song of the Year at the Queensland Music Awards. He has a growing fan base, within the industry and amongst music lovers. He’s also been regularly reviewed on this website because from his first, self-titled album it was clear that he is an outstanding talent. Since that album he’s released Jamestown and From the Bottom of a Well, both complete works, just as the first one was – that is, they are deeply satisfying on lyrical and musical levels, and they are story collections that leave you feeling as though you’ve been told things, learnt things, experienced emotions and taken paths you didn’t otherwise know were there.

It is no surprise, therefore, that with his fourth album, Travelling Salesman, Butcher has again produced a complete work. But that doesn’t mean that his albums are simply versions of each other. On each Butcher looks out and within to find what is right for that work at that time. On each he is prepared to draw on his personal experiences and be vulnerable; on each he is also able to look at the world around him and tell stories that are of value about it.

Travelling Salesman is the work of an artist who now has perspective on the past and on the path he’s been on; as a working artist he now believes himself akin to a ‘travelling salesman’ but there is only pragmatism in the assessment. This is a travelling salesman who likes the travel, even if he’s had to get used to the selling. He also now has a sense of where he fits into the world, and what he can bring to others. Along the way he has not lost the sense of wonder, or willingness to be honest and emotional, that have been present since his first album. If anything, he’s become tighter as a storyteller – in that he has sharpened his focus – and nowhere is this more evident than on the fourth track, ‘Easy Street’.

This is a multi-generational family story in one song; it acknowledges that struggle can strengthen ties, that love is a virtue and that there is room for resentment and forgiveness within each clan. Even though it’s the fourth track, much radiates from it: the man of ‘I’m All In’ is the product of that family in ‘Easy Street’, as is the one whose beliefs shape ‘Suburban Myth’. Within that family that same man has learned to look beyond himself so he can tell the stories of others, as in ‘Freshwater Lady’. It all suggests that over the past four albums Butcher has developed his understanding of what it means to take on the responsibility of being a storyteller. On earlier albums he might have been telling stories for himself – even though they’ve always resonated with many others – but now he’s firmly looking outwards. Or, rather, radiating outwards. He knows who he is and it is from that place of surety that he steps into the world.

Partly this is, no doubt, because he’s become that travelling salesman. He is going around the country, meeting people, playing to strangers, and all the while using his talent and skills to synthesise what he sees and learns. The result is this wonderful album, the fourth in an outstanding line, but the first, perhaps, of a new direction for Butcher, not only the travelling salesman but the roving storyteller who embraces his role and understands its importance to the people who come to listen to his tales.

Travelling Salesman is out now.

Apple Music | Artist’s website | Spotify

Watch the video for ‘Nature’s Course’, the first track on Travelling Salesman, below:


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.


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

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



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


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”