Newcastle singer-songwriter Melody Moko released her debut album, The Wreckage, last year and in recent weeks released its second single, ‘Secondhand Heart’. Moko’s pop-inflected country has the right balance of sweetness and seriousness, in her voice as well as the lyrics and music. Given this combination, it’s not surprising that she chose Catherine Britt to produce the album alongside her husband, Michael Muchow (a member of Britt’s band as well as a solo artist).
Moko has said ‘Secondhand Heart’ is unashamedly a love song, and an acknowledgement that everyone brings history to a relationship: your heart may be secondhand but that doesn’t mean it can’t be new. It’s a knowing and hopeful song – with a lovely video to match, as you can see below.
Apple Music | iTunes | Sanity | Spotify
Melbourne singer-songwriter Paul McManus has released the single ‘Blowout’ from his forthcoming second album, Postcodes. McManus cites his influences as Ryan Adams, Justin Townes Earle, Augie March, The Kinks and Ron Sexsmith, which suggests an alt-rock/Americana lineage via Australian independent pop/rock (Augie March) – but it doesn’t account for how gloriously Australian this song is, in a way that recalls the best of You Am I (and that band’s main songwriter, Tim Rogers, has since revealed his country credentials by forming the Hillbilly Killers with Catherine Britt and Bill Chambers). McManus allows his strong singing voice to have an Australian inflection in this tale of suburbia and finding identity.
‘Written in a time of high house prices and disposable incomes,’ as the press release says, ‘the song finds comfort in living in the present.’ It’s also hard to be anything other than present with it: it’s a tightly written song that is also rambunctious and infectious.
Listen to ‘Blowout’ on:
Apple Music | Spotify
Gold Coast-based artist Brook Chivell was a top 10 finisher at the prestigious Star Maker competition in 2017 and not long afterwards released his debut single, becoming a favourite on CMC. His country rock sound has also taken him to the Deni Ute Muster, Gympie Music Muster, Sydney Country Music Festival, Broadbeach Country Music Festival and Tamworth Country Music Festival, but he has a softer side – literally, as in October last year he undertook an acoustic tour throughout New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia with country artist Natalie Pearson.
There’s a strong rock strand developing in Australian country music, with artists such as the Wolfe Brothers, Adam Brand and Travis Collins at the forefront. Chivell’s new single, ‘Outta My Song’, shows why he’s been a festival favourite alongside these artists – and no doubt his profile will continue to grow.
Apple Music | Spotify
Singer-songwriter Bradley Hall is from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. He started playing guitar at the age of 15 as a way to pass the time living in remote communities and then while working on mine sites.
His new song, ‘My Heart, My Land’, is a love song to the Australian landscape, with ‘rocks as old as the Dreamtime, this is the land that made me’. It is the story of Hall’s history with the land, and of those working on outback stations, amongst others, but leaves plenty of room for listeners to put themselves in the story too. It is a heartfelt song that uses enough sentiment to convey its message without overindulging. The backing vocals from Golden Guitar winner Amber Lawrence are a lovely complement to Hall’s voice.
‘My Heart, My Land’ is taken from Hall’s new album, Back to Country. The accompanying video is beautifully shot and worth watching more than once.
Back to Country is available now.
Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify
Sinead Burgess is a Brisbane singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist now resident in Nashville who recently released an album, Damaged Goods. Burgess is now an independent artist after being signed to a major label as a teenager and, as with so many independent Australian artists, she has produced music that has blossomed with the freedom that seems to come from independence. The quality of so much of this independently produced music is very high, the result not just of the availability of very good producers but also, one suspects, because artists feel free to explore parts of their music, and themselves, that might be more controlled under different circumstances.
Burgess has a winsome voice even when the song is about hard experiences, as is the case with her new single, ‘Praising God, Raising Hell’. Burgess wrote all of the songs and played most of the instruments on her album – this, too, must give her a sense of freedom even as it increases the work, but her love of what she’s doing is evident. This song is a fine example of a very good album that fits within the country-pop genre and which also sounds like nothing so much as Burgess sitting across from you on a stool, singing you her stories with heart and intention. It’s a privilege to be allowed to intimately into an artist’s world, and Burgess has captured that on this song and this album.
Listen to ‘Praising God, Raising Hell’ here: https://sineadburgessmusic.lnk.to/PraisingGodRaisingHell
Damaged Goods is available now.
In May I posted about the single ‘Watered Down Man’ from Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Riley Catherall. He’s now released a second single from his upcoming album and it’s another lovely tune, although quite different in content and tone from his first. It’s also enhanced – as any song would be – by backing vocals from Kasey Chambers.
Catherall’s songs are simple, and that’s meant as a compliment: he is clear in the story he is telling and the emotion and meaning within it, and these are elements that come from authenticity and experience (and, probably, writing lots of songs before you decide on the ones you wish to share). Chambers’s vocals add some drama, mainly because it’s hard not to listen to her and hear a heart breaking. They’re also tonally a great match.
With two for two wonderful songs, Catherall is already on the way to an impressive debut album.
Listen to ‘Robin’: https://dittomusic.lnk.to/RileyCatherallRobin
If you’re looking for an excellent start to the week, the new single from New Zealand singer-songwriter Jenny Mitchell can help you out. ‘Wildfires’ is a cracker of a song and the first single from Mitchell’s next album, to be released later this year.
Mitchell has a terrific voice, and on this song it’s married with a snappy beat and snarling guitars to match the tale of a toxic relationship. ‘Wildfires burn so easily’ she sings, and we believe her.
The gift of this level of talent and skill on a song is that the listener is immediately on the hook, as you will be as soon as you listen to ‘Wildfires’.
Mitchell is a graduate of the CMAA Academy of Country Music and melds country, folk and Americana into her own unique style. She’s a rising star in her home country – but she’s going to tour here soon. Dates below.
Listen to ‘Wildfires’ on:
Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify
Friday 26th – Sunday 28th October – Tablelands Folk Festival – Yungaburra, QLD
Wednesday 31st October – The Spotted Mallard – Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 1st November – Caravan Music Club – Melbourne, VIC
Friday 2nd – Monday 5th November: Maldon Folk Festival – Maldon, VIC
Wednesday 7th November: Ararat Live – Ararat, VIC
Thursday 8th November – Porch Light Sessions, Petersham Bowling Club – Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th November – The Acoustic Picnic – Brookvale, NSW