Sydney-based singer-songwriter Christie Lamb has been busy for most of this year, playing with Lee Kernaghan on his Backroad Nation tour. But she’s found time to write and record an outstanding new album, Broken Lines, her third.
The title song is serious in tone, but the album embraces a range of moods and experiences.
Lamb says the song was chosen to go first because it ‘was one of those songs that built in intensity and I thought, Let’s ease everyone in with something, but I still wanted an uptempo track to kick in and get everyone excited about the album. And this song has both those elements. It starts off nice and cruisey and then it kicks in by the chorus. And it’s also the song that kind of sums up the whole album – it’s about this journey that this girl is on. She’s following those broken lines. And I think if you’re looking through all the tracks on the album, there’s definitely a journey of heartbreak and love and loss of a loved one. And the party tracks … It definitely encompasses a whole journey.’
After the first listen it’s clear that the songs on the album form a cycle, with the first three songs quite reflective, giving the impression that Lamb – or the songs’ narrators – have gone through quite a bit in order to get to the place where they can be more upbeat. The fourth track is previous single ‘Hot Hot Kiss’, and its placement suggests that Lamb has gotten through the muck to get to the fun. Lamb agrees that the sense of a song cycle is there on purpose.
‘I’ve had this album eighteen months in the making and it’s finally out. And then I had my own revelations that I didn’t even realise that I did, with ‘Fix This Broken Heart’ being track six and it’s all about the heartbreak and trying to heal. And then I thought, Oh, track seven’s kind of the answer to that. How do you get over heartbreak? Oh, let’s just move on and not waste any more time. Just do it in five minutes. And I didn’t even realise that I did that. So it was interesting finding all these little quirks that I happened to do with the track listing. But yes, this album has definitely got that flow. It’s got that set-up of here’s a few things that I’ve gone through, but let’s not dwell on it and let’s have some fun.’
The cycle ends with ‘We’re All in It Together’, which is a reflective and unifying song. When asked if there’s one message she’d like people to take from the album, Lamb says that this song encompasses it.
‘That’s why it is the final track,’ she says. ‘Whatever you’re aspiring to in life or where you want to go all or where you come from, it really doesn’t matter because right here and now, each other, that’s all we’ve got. So let’s be there for one another.’
Still, the order for the album didn’t come easily, with Lamb and producer Andy Mack working on it together.
‘The track order was the hardest part of the whole album process, I have to be honest,’ says Lamb. ‘I think it went through five or six different options before we landed on this one. We thought, okay, well the single’s out there, “Hot Hot Kiss”, so we should start with that one. We threw around so many different tracks and we wanted to spread out the balance from one another so it didn’t get too down.
‘Andy Mack came up with this suggestion of starting with “Broken Lines” and that was the whole game changer when we put that up the top. It made room for everything and made this journey a bit more seamless. So it was definitely a process.’
Lamb chose Mack to produce because ‘I just wanted to push myself as an artist and try something new. So I thought, Let’s try a different producer … I’d heard his previous work with Drew McAlister and The McClymonts and loved the sound he had. And he just seemed to get me as an artist. He heard my songs and said, “Yes, you’re very much a contemporary country artist, but you’ve got a lot of soul in these songs and I want to draw on that influence.” The harmony work that we came up with together is just something that I think really sets this album apart, especially in the ballads.
‘Andy was very inclusive and wanted not just my opinion but the opinions of the other musicians in the room,’ Lamb continues. ‘We recorded it all organically, all in the same room. Then we’d play back the take and say, “What could we change? You could add a drum fill here. I might try this different bass line here.” It was very much a group effort, this album.’
One member of that group was the late Glen Hannah, who appeared on many an Australian country music artist, although this was the first time Lamb had worked with him.
;Everyone’s always spoken so highly of Glen,’ she says. ‘A lot of artists that I know have recorded with him. But I’d never had that opportunity to actually see him in his full capacity. And he was very quiet, sat in the corner. I think he had about thirteen guitars surrounding him, and I thought, This guy has so many guitars. Does he really need all those guitars? But he made every one sing and sound completely different.
‘I was just in awe of him, snapping little behind-the-scenes of him all the time. I don’t know if anyone noticed that in the room … And he was so humble and saying, “Oh, you know what, that wasn’t my best take, let’s do it again.” And every take sounded amazing. He had such a creative mind and pieces like “Broken Lines”, all those atmospheric things, they don’t even sound like guitars, but it’s Glen on the track. So he really took the album to a new level.’
The band Lamb most often plays with is The Wolfe Brothers, in their joint capacity as support acts and backing band for Lee Kernaghan – a role that looks like it will continue into 2020. For Lamb herself, it’s unsurprising to learn that she has no intention of slowing down for a while just because she’s released a new album. She plays her own show at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January as well as playing Lee’s show. After that there will be, she says, a slight break ‘and then we’ll get back to business’.
‘Then I’ll go to Nashville again midyear with the Soundmart Tours and I’ll have my first trip as a tour guide over there. I get to hang out with a whole bunch of Aussies going over there, go to the CMA Fest and see all the sights and show them around Nashville.’
She will stay in Nashville to write some songs, ‘then I’ll be back to release a couple more singles and do some shows of my own to see out the rest of the year.’
With an album as good as this one to tour, those shows will offer a lot to fans – and you can find out where Lamb is playing by heading to her website.
Broken Lines is out now through ABC Music/Universal.