Take Me to Town may count as one album but it’s actually three CDs full of Australian alternative country music artists, some of whom will be familiar to readers of this blog – such as Tracy McNeil, The Weeping Willows, Lachlan Bryan, William Crighton and Jen Mize – and some who may be unknown simply because they are new.
Take Me to Town is the creation of Dave Favours from Sydney label Stanley Records, in concert with Chris Hamilton of Americana site Post to Wire, and Areatha Bryant of Mother Hen Touring. The trio decided on a list of artists and also secured some tracks that are exclusive to this release, from Ben Leece (who is about to release his debut album) and the always-compelling Katie Brianna, Sam Newton, Den Hanrahan, Peta Caswell and the increasingly prominent Michael Carpenter. Indeed, almost half the songs are exclusive to the compilation, so if you’re a country music fan who is wondering if it’s worth purchasing, that alone should convince you.
I’m fond of saying that country music is a broad umbrella and this compilation is proof that alternative country, too, deserves that description. The 47 tracks demonstrate that alt-country is flourishing around the land and pushing that genre, and Australian country music in general, into bold territory. There are elements of traditional country forms in these songs, reworked in a contemporary way or with a vocal flourish that creates something interesting. In some ways the compilation is an education about how country music is being interpreted and fashioned by new or new-is artists, and also how the work of more established artists like Lachlan Bryan and The Weeping Willows compares with songs from emerging artists. In this way the compilation also serves an almost anthropological purpose: the artists on this album are all pretty much from the same generation, yet how they approach their work is 47 ways of different.
Continue reading “Album review: Take Me to Town”
Australian country music artists often cover American country songs, which is, of course, completely fitting: our country music can trace a certain amount of its lineage from the United States. However, while many of those Australian artists do a wonderful job with those covers, it’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job than American-born now Australian-resident Jen Mize and Brisbane artist Mark Sholtez, who have released the album Twilight on the Trail, a collection of old American cowboy songs such as the traditional ‘Home on the Range’, ‘The Black Hills of Dakota’ (originally sung by Doris Day in Calamity Jane) and ‘Cow Cow Boogie’ (sung by artists including Dorothy Dandridge and Ella Fitzgerald).
Continue reading “Album review: Twilight on the Trail by Jen Mize & Mark Sholtez”
Jen Mize’s latest album, Warnings & Wisdom, has yielded a second single: the slice of wonderfulness that is ‘Forget Her’. Mize was in the studio with producer Shane Nicholson when Toombs – who is well known to country music audiences as he turns up in a lot of bands playing a lot of different instruments – stopped by to record backing vocals. Mize was so impressed by what she heard that she rewrote ‘Forget Her’ as a duet. Once you hear this song, you will understand why. Mize’s rich, honeyed, husky tones are so well balanced by Toombs, and the song is a bittersweet rendering of longing, hope and pragmatism.
This is a song you’ll want to play over and over – which you can do by watching the video below. You can also buy Warnings & Wisdom on
American-born Sunshine Coast resident Jen Mize has released ‘Deepwater’, a single from her upcoming album Warnings & Wisdom, which will be released on 29 September and was produced by Shane Nicholson. Mize’s voice has incredible power on this track that she wrote about ‘returning home at the end of this life, and the beauty and piece that can come from that’.
Listen to the song on Soundcloud or watch the video below.