Felicity Urquhart is woven into the thread of Australian country music, as an acclaimed, awarded and beloved singer and songwriter; as the host of ABC Radio’s ‘Saturday Night Country’, and as a member of the extraordinary outfit that is Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart. She is the winner of seven Golden Guitars as a solo artist (and BBU have won three), and has several albums to her name; she has also been nominated for an ARIA and won the CMA International Broadcaster award.
Between broadcasting, BBU and parenting, however, it has been a while since Urquhart released an LP (there was an EP about three years ago, produced for her Tamworth show), so there will be many people looking forward to Frozen Rabbit on 26 April 2019. In the meantime, we can enjoy ‘Chain of Joy’, the first single. Co-written with the wonderful Kim Richey, the song is a lovely ode to the many joys to be found in daily life. Urquhart has always been able to balance light and dark beautifully, so this is not a song so sweet that it will set your teeth on edge – in Urquhart’s nuanced, honeyed voice, it seems to suggest that these daily joys can be hard won and should be appreciated.
And while everything BBU does is a delight, it is wonderful to have new music by Urquhart alone, with the promise of more to come.
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Pre-order Frozen Rabbit: https://abcmusic.lnk.to/FrozenRabbit
Love songs are great, a lot of the time. Without them, some genres of music would shrivel up and disappear. While country music is not one of those genres – because the stories in its songs cover a very broad range of subjects, and country music songs are arguably as much about work and failure as they are about love – it is a strange relief to find a song that declares ‘sometimes love ain’t enough’, as does ‘Apple and Pride’, the title single from Natalie Henry’s forthcoming album.
‘Apple and Pride’ is a song for grown-ups. It is realistic, and honest, and that central declaration – that sometimes love ain’t enough – is expressed with some regret but mostly with what sounds like clear-eyed hope: love isn’t always enough and now that that’s acknowledged, let’s move on and see what life brings. It’s a song about the work of being an adult, being a parent, being a partner and being alone. There is a break-up at the centre of it but mostly there’s strength – and pride – and a sense that everything is going to be just fine.
Watch the video for ‘Apple and Pride’ below.
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Victorian singer-songwriter Nathan Seeckts has been releasing music and performing live since 2010, releasing three EPs in that time. He’s appeared at the Tamworth Country Music Festival and in support of acts such as You Am I, Archie Roach, Tex Perkins and Raised By Eagles. Seeckts also hosts ‘Last Night in Town’, a weekly radio program on community radio station 94.7 The Pulse that focuses on Americana and alt-country. Accordingly, Seeckts has been steeped in these genres of country music and his lineage is clear in ‘Old Blood’, the first single from his forthcoming album, The Heart of the City.
On ‘Old Blood’, Seeckts’s rich, distinctive voice conjures world-weariness, grabs at the heart and leaves the listener wanting more. There is sadness here more than melancholy; the song is explicitly about regret but it’s not nihilistic – there is a hint, in that voice, that a corner might be turned.
Seeckts is supporting the single release with three shows in Victoria:
Friday 15 February
The Fitzroy Pinnacle
With special guest Ben Reece
251 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North
Ph: 03 9489 3044
Free entry, doors 8pm
Saturday 16 February
With special guests Rach Brennan & The Pines and Ben Leece
90 Little Malop St, Geelong
Ph: 03 5222 8331
Tix $15, doors 8pm
Friday 22 February
The Taproom, Castlemaine
Ph: 0425 323 005
9 Walker St, Castlemaine
Free entry, doors 8pm
The Heart of the City will be released on 29 March 2019.
Sydney singer-songwriter Dani Young has emerged onto the Australian country music scene over the past couple of years. Her debut album, Desert Water, was an album of duets recorded with Warren H Williams and it was nominated for a Golden Guitar in 2017.
Last year Young toured alongside Damien Leith, who also co-produced her forthcoming second album along with Jeremy Edwards; the album is mixed by Shane Nicholson. Young is an accomplished jazz artist as well, winning Best Young Jazz Act at the Northern Territory Jazz and Blues Festival.
Young’s new album is due for release early in 2019. The single ‘Stepping Stones’ is a song about leaving your roots behind – or maybe not. It has lyrics almost everyone can relate to, along a note of self-awareness and absence of self-pity that makes it intriguing and worth listening to over and over. The song is accompanied by a video that Young directed with Duncan Toombs, who is the creator of many a great country music video.
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From the ‘better late than never’ file comes this captivating single by Melbourne singer-songwriter Teresa Duffy-Richards, released late last year and taken from her forthcoming debut album. There is an almost dreamy quality to the song while it also sounds earthy. It could be the combination of voices: Duffy-Richards’s voice anchors the listener in the ache of the present, while the harmonies provided by Claire Birchall (the Phantom Hitchhikers, Paper Planes) and Ruby McGrath-Lester (Team Love) evoke a chorus of the past. With influences from folk, country and Celtic music, this is a song of home and longing for it.
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Lizzie Steadman is a top 10 Grand Finalist in the upcoming 2019 Toyota Star Maker event, to be held during January’s Tamworth Country Music Festival. This won’t be far from home for Steadman, an Aboriginal singer-songwriter who grew up in a small country town near the country music capital. She was introduced to country music as a child, by her father, and taught herself to play guitar.
Steadman has worked as a jillaroo on some of Northern Territory’s largest cattle stations, an aged care nurse at Mutitjulu (Uluru), as a nurse in Tamworth and now as a caseworker assisting disadvantaged youths. That rich and varied experience working with people is possibly the reason why Steadman’s songwriting and singing is so heartfelt, as can be heard on her new single, ‘Here We Go Again’. This is a song in a traditional country style and Steadman’s voice captivates from the first note, then takes the listener through deep emotions. It was written with Shane Nicholson at a songwriting retreat at the Dag Sheep Station in Nundle, NSW, and produced by Steve Newton in Tamworth’s Enrec Studios.
Steadman was awarded the Troy Cassar-Daley Indigenous Scholarship to attend the CMAA Academy of Country Music in January 2018 and she was was a finalist in the Indigenous women category for the ZONTA International Women’s Day Awards. ‘Here We Go Again’ shows you why she has been given such recognition – it is a glorious song, and Steadman is a major new talent.
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Queensland singer-songwriter Chloe Styler went to her first country music concert at the age of five, and the experience of seeing Lee Kernaghan live was the first step on her path to becoming an artist. Even though she’s now inspired more by Kacey Musgraves and Joni Mitchell, Styler performed as an opening act for Kernaghan in several shows during 2017.
Prior to that, in 2015, Styler attended the Junior Course of the CMAA Academy of Country Music, then the Senior Course of the Academy in January 2017, where she developed her songwriting and performance skills. She was mentored by Kevin Bennett and did some songwriting with Fanny Lumsden and Stuie French. Around the same time she released her debut EP and performed at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
This year, Styler was a grand finalist in the 39th Annual Toyota Star Maker competition and performed on James Blundell, Troy Cassar Daley and Lee Kernaghan’s TCMF shows. During the festival she was awarded the TSA Songwriters Salute Award for ‘Contemporary Song of the Year’ for her original ‘Control’.
Now the Gold Coast resident has released a lovely new single, ‘When Your Light Burns’, which was written with Lumsden and produced by Matt Fell.
The song was inspired by a lighthouse that has been on an island in the Great Barrier Reef for over 150 years. Styler has spent family holidays on the island and says that the lighthouse ‘has been a constant throughout my life … [it] reminds me that although I can feel alone, lost and completely unsure of what to do next, it will always be there to guide me.’
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