Early in the first verse of Allison Forbes’s new single, ‘Broken Radios’, it’s hard to avoid a sense of relief: we’re in such assured hands, and this is a great song, and Forbes is going to look after us all the way to the end. Her voice is rich and worldly, cracked and sweet. It’s a voice you want to hear at the end of a long day, or after life has taken a hard turn, even as this song is a call to arms about music, and specifically about the music that is disseminated to the world.
Forbes grew up in Tamworth, so she’s been involved in country music at its epicentre. She is a central figure in the town’s annual country music festival, supporting emerging artists by including them in line-ups with established artists at the shows she organises. So if anyone is qualified to have an opinion about music, to say ‘Give me colours that I can feel’, it is Forbes. ‘Broken Radios’ is the impassioned plea of someone who is deeply steeped and embedded in music. Produced by Shane Nicholson, Forbes’s regular ‘sparring partner’, as she calls him, the song comes from Bonedigger, her forthcoming debut album.
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Last year Melbourne singer-songwriter Emily Hatton released a debut single, ‘Hades’, which announced her as an artist to watch. Hatton has been a singer since a young age, studying voice and participating in choirs and other vocal groups throughout her teens. At the age of 17 it became clear that her voice was most suited to country music, and the country pop-rock sound of her songs works so well with her voice. She has the power in that voice to work with strong backing – and with another strong singer.
In Hatton’s new single, ‘Maybe’, she is matched with Troy Kemp, an Australian country music artist who is a popular solo performer as well as half of the duo McAlister Kemp. In ‘Maybe’ Hatton’s and Kemp’s voices work together in the chorus and separate for the verses, and that pattern works to embody the story of the lyrics: a couple coming together and moving apart, the push and pull of ‘maybe’. It’s quite a different song to ‘Hades’ but still indicative of Hatton’s ability to take on big themes and a soaring melody and really deliver.
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Hannah May is a singer-songwriter from New Zealand who’s now resident in Brisbane. She was one half of Mae Valley, who released an outstanding EP in 2016 and opened for Kelsea Ballerini, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood. This year May was one of the finalists for the highly competitive Toyota Star Maker competition (May is no stranger to competitions – Mae Valley placed highly on The X Factor NZ).
Not May has released the self-penned track ‘Passenger Seat’, which was produced by Peter Holz, who has worked with acts such as The Veronicas. May has a beautiful pop tone in her voice, and as her melodic sensibilities tend towards country music, country pop is a great fit for her. ‘Passenger Seat’ is a love song with gentle lyrics and a catchy pace that suggests. Its appeal is irresistible on two fronts – May clearly has the ability to write songs that become earworms, and also songs that you want to listen to because they make you happy.
May is working on some more new music, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we have more songs that make the day better simply by existing.
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El Cosgrove, Billie Rose and Laura Frank are three singer-songwriters who sit under the country music umbrella yet have diverse styles and sensibilities. They have united to bring together their fantastic individual sounds under the banner Femmestomp, with a debut show at the 2020 Tamworth Country Music Festival on 24 January at The Welder’s Dog.
The trio were brought together by the team at Footstomp after Billie Rose talked to them about a tour of her own. While they didn’t know each other prior to embarking on the tour, there is the prospect of collaboration, with Billie Rose saying, ‘I think it’d be awesome to do some songwriting with the girls down the track.’
Only three shows are planned for now, which means punters should make sure not to miss out – although they haven’t ruled out other shows, coordinating schedules could take some time so there are no guarantees!
The other two dates on the tour are:
30 January – The Bearded Lady – Brisbane
31 January 31 – Home Of The Arts – Basement – Gold Coast
For those not yet familiar with the work of these three artists, tracks are available below.
Billie Rose | El Cosgrove | Laura Frank
Shane Nicholson is known as a songwriter and singer with many exceptional albums to his credit; over the past few years he’s also established himself as a producer in great demand, and as a mentor of up-and-coming country music talent. He is a fixture at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, appearing on the following dates:
Monday 20 January – Friends of Goonga’s Girls – West Tamworth Leagues Club
Wednesday 22 January – The Pub
Thursday 23 January – The Press (Dwayne Picklegun Show)
Friday 24 January – RUOK Show – West Tamworth Leagues Club
Ahead of the festival he released a new single, ‘The High Price of Surviving’, co-written with young Queensland songwriter Leyon Milner. It’s another great song amongst many in his catalogue, which begs the question: is he capable of writing a bad song?
‘Well, I’ve certainly written a couple,’ he says with a laugh. ‘I try and hide them as much as possible and don’t let other people hear them. I certainly wouldn’t try and record them. There are always bad songs. What I’ve learned though is that the more time goes on, the more songs I write, the more albums I make, I don’t actually finish the bad ones any more. I used to. You’d have a pile of songs and then decide your favourite or the best ones for a record. It doesn’t really get to that point now. So if the song’s not working or if it’s not going to be great, I can seem to identify it earlier. And I don’t bother finishing it. So the last few records I’ve made, the only songs that are written and finished are the ones that actually are on the record.’
Continue reading “Shane Nicholson heads for Tamworth with a new single and a packed schedule”
Emily Barker is a hugely talented and accomplished singer and songwriter across a range of genres, including writing for film and TV. She’s originally from Western Australia; she’s been living in the United Kingdom for the past few years but has returned to home shores for a string of dates that includes appearances at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, ahead of the release of her album Shadow Box at the end of this month:
Sunday 19 January – Fanzone – (2.40 p.m.)
Monday 20 January – Americana in the Park – Toyota Park – (7.00 p.m.)
Wednesday 22 January – Women’s Refugee Centre Fundraiser – Welder’s Dog (3.30 p.m. – 3.50 p.m.)
Wednesday 22 January – Welder’s Dog – Tamworth, NSW (5.00 p.m. – 7.00 p.m.)
Emily’s Tamworth plans started when she had an invitation from a music industry contact who’s an artist manager she met in Nashville at the Americana Fest, who happens to be Fanny Lumsden’s manager.
‘Fanny and I are friends,’ Barker explains, ‘and our managers met and became friends. And since then we’ve had this nice communication going with us sort of helping with any questions on the UK and him helping with any questions on Australia, even though I’m Australian, obviously, [but] I’ve lived over there for such a long time. So he’s been really helpful and he’s one of the people who’s who does some of the organising and bookings and things like that. So he got an invite and sent my stuff around to a few people and then various other things came from that. I think we’re doing about four shows and the one that he was a part of was Americana in the Park.’
The other places she’ll be playing are mostly venues she’s played before, although there is a bigger plan behind the tour schedule.
Continue reading “Interview: Emily Barker”
Last year Blue Mountains band Copperline released their debut album, Rusty Fords and Weatherboards – and this year they make their debut as a band at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, playing:
Saturday 18 January – Post Office Hotel
Sunday 19 January – Tamworth City Bowling Club
Sunday 26 January – Toyota Fanzone Stage
It’s not the first Tamworth for singer and guitarist Brad Christmas, though.
‘I’ve been to Tamworth before and I’ve played with different projects,’ he says, ‘but this is the first time Copperline’s played at Tamworth. So we’re really excited about our Tamworth debut and sharing all these songs with the Tamworth crowd. I’m just really looking forward to seeing how people react. The biggest thrill about this whole project is that it’s such a long journey from when you write songs and record them to you actually getting out there and play them, so I love that moment when you first play a song and you see what people’s reactions are. And I’m looking forward to catching up with his friends who are playing and seeing their shows and just being part of it. Tamworth feels like a big family get-together.’
And even though ‘debut’ implies that the band is a relatively new entity, they’re not.
‘We’ve actually been been playing together for a long time – 10 or 15 years,’ says Christmas. ‘We’ve been in cover bands and event bands, and we’ve even got a little side project as a kids band that we do from time to time. For age we’d been talking about doing a new original country project. We were really waiting for the right time, till everyone could really throw themselves into it, writing and recording an album and touring. Last year ended up being the right time. We had a bunch of songs that we’ve been putting together over a number of years and we really wanted to work with Shane Nicholson, and we found a time that he was available and keen to get us up to the studio. So it all came together around that.’
Continue reading “Copperline are taking their Rusty Fords to Tamworth”