Tag: Australian music

Single release: ‘Can’t Stop Livin’ It’ by Kimberley Bowden

unnamed-4.jpgSongs can perform a variety of functions in a day, from reinforcing melancholy feelings to revving us up to consoling us, and many others. Sometimes there’s a song that makes you believe – no matter if your day has been good, bad or indifferent – that everything is going to be all right. It makes you want to sigh in relief or drop the tension from your shoulders. They can achieve it musically or lyrically, or from the combination.

The new single from Brisbane singer-songwriter Kimberley Bowden – who was a finalist in the 2008 Toyota Star Maker – is one of those songs, and the feeling starts from the opening bar – and that’s before you realise that message of the lyrics is, basically, that everything is going to be all right. Life can knock you off your feet but you can’t stop living it – and you can’t stop loving it. Says Bowden of the song, ‘I wrote this song in one of my darkest moments. But it was in this moment that I could see that things would eventually get better again, because they always do.’

Bowden also delivers the message in the way she sings – with a sense of seriousness of her message mixed with what sounds like a smile in her voice. There is not just acceptance but joyfulness there too. So that makes it not just the perfect balm for a bad day but a great reinforcement for a good day – and if you’re not quite sure which sort of day you’re having, it will definitely improve after you listen.

 

 

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www.facebook.com/pg/kimberleybowdenmusic/

EP review: Older by Simon Imrei

Simon Imrei (Older EP - Cover Art).jpgEarlier this year Victorian singer-songwriter Simon Imrei released a single called ‘Stand Still’, which was endorsed on this site as ‘easy to listen to’ – a compliment that is taken as a pejorative by some people but which is not at all, because writing a song that is easy to listen to often involves the ability to not only hone but ruthlessly edit melody and lyrics in order to produce something that is accessible to a broad range of people. When an artist produces something that is ‘easy to listen to’ they tend to be audience focused, thinking of the best way they can communicate clearly with others.

Now that Imrei has released a new EP, Older – which contains ‘Stand Still’ – it’s clear that communicating with an audience is a priority for him. The EP contains five songs that are sweet and bittersweet, thoughtful, and clear in what they’re expressing – and all of that applies to the music as well as the lyrics. Imrei has an ear for a catchy melody, and that is a talent as well as a skill. Imrei’s bio states that he grew up on the Mornington Peninsula, and spent his childhood ‘riding in the back of cars along tree-lined roads and through quiet towns listening to the catchy choruses and the pop sensibility of 80s/90s radio’. So it’s likely that’s partly what led to his melodic skills and also his ability to create songs that conjure that sense of distance and space that comes from travelling around the Australian countryside.

What that doesn’t account for, though, is his voice, which sounds like it’s smooth – although that implies smoothed out, whereas it’s actually full of nuance. It’s the sort of voice that could sing you the side of a cereal box and you’d be content, but that’s not to take away from rewards that are to be found in listening closely to the lyrics of this very satisfying, accomplished EP. Imrei has developed and fully inhabits both parts of being a ‘singer-songwriter’ and that is to the very great benefit of the listener.

Older is out now.

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www.simonimrei.com

 

 

Single release: ‘Let Me Be’ by Taylor Moss

unnamed (4).jpgAustralian country music artists are producing some great country pop. The McClymonts arguably established the direction of the genre (and, yes, we could have that argument but writing a blog allows for unilateral statements so I’m making one) and in the years since they released their eponymous EP in 2006 a variety of artists have emerged not so much following in their wake as expanding the genre and offering stories from their own experience.

Taylor Moss is a 23-year-old Sunshine Coast-based singer-songwriter who first entered a recording studio at the age of fifteen, and four years ago was a finalist in Toyota Star Maker. In late 2017 she released new music independently that led to a support spot with Jimmy Barnes and performances at The Gympie Music Muster, and she’s made several appearances at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

 

Last year Moss went back into the studio with producer Matt Fell, who worked on her original releases, to record some new songs. ‘Take It From Me’ was released in April this year, and now Moss has released ‘Let Me Be’. It’s a coming of age song, told through the eyes of a young woman making her own choices and living with the consequences as well as learning from experience.

Moss is creating great, catchy and entertaining songs – the essence of pop – as well as leaning in to the storytelling side of country, as you’ll find out in ‘Let Me Be’.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

www.facebook.com/taylormossmusic

Single release: ‘Reno’ by Sinead Burgess

unnamed (3).jpgIn 2018 Sinead Burgess released the wonderful, memorable album Damaged Goods. Recently she appeared at Country2Country in Sydney and Brisbane – her first shows in Australia in five years, she said – and showed why she’s worth paying very close attention to: with only a guitar for accompaniment, she had the crowd transfixed.

Ahead of C2C she released a new single, ‘Reno’, which is not drawn from Damaged Goods, which had a more acoustic-based sound. ‘Reno’ is a full-band recording, which allows Burgess to move into a more country-rock sound that compliments her storytelling style and subject matter, and detracts not at all from her vocals.

Says Burgess of the inspiration for the song: ‘I got the idea pulled up in front of a run down motel in Reno, Nevada. The rooms had these incredibly kitschy peach doors that look like they hadn’t been cleaned since the 70s, and I started to daydream about how it would feel planning a big life from such a small room. So much of my own story and yearning for growth and adventure found its way into the lyrics, and all of a sudden we ended up with a grungy, Petty-inspired song.’

 

The song was written with California rockers The Federal Empire (Grammy-nominated writer McKay Stevens and Chad Wolf, former front man of Carolina Liar) and recorded in Nashville. The writing and recording were part of Burgess’s Nashville Songwriter Residency Grant for 2019, awarded to her by the Australia Council for the Arts and offered to only one Australian per year.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

www.sineadburgessmusic.com

Album news: Liquid Damage by Harvey Russell

unnamed-3.jpgSydneysider Harvey Russell was the front man for the rock/alt-country Harvey Swagger Band in the late 2000s and played country-folk music in duo Peasant Moon. Now he’s released an album, Liquid Damage, as a solo artist and, in short, it is a honky-tonkin’ good time. Russell combines a musical thoroughbred lineage with a bucking bronco’s spirit and all of that is evident on this collection of heartfelt tales and entertaining tunes.

The album was produced by Michael Carpenter at Love Hz in Sydney and Carpenter appears on backing vocals, piano and other instruments. Russell’s backing band, The Widowmakers, also features Luke Moller on fiddle and Peta Caswell on backing vocals. Liquid Damage will satisfy country purists, thanks to Russell’s respect for the traditions of the genre, but even those who don’t know anything about country music will find much to satisfy them in these nine well-crafted songs.

Liquid Damage is out now.

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www.harveyrussellmusic.com

 

Album review: The Weir by Michael Waugh

Michael Waugh The Weir 3000x3000px 72dpi.jpgVictorian singer-songwriter Michael Waugh is a Golden Guitar nominee, for his 2016 album What We Might Be, and winner of the 2018 The Age Music Victoria Award for Best Folk and Roots Album. Folk is probably a more apt classification for his music than country, yet Waugh has become a fixture in Australian country music, and that’s because his sublime storytelling and his willingness to open his heart in performance are qualities that mean something to country music audiences.

Examples of those qualities appear throughout his new album, The Weir, but they’ll likely grab you first on track eight, ‘Warragul Police’. This song stands out on a first listen to the album, and it’s because of Waugh’s commitment to writing lyrics that are richly descriptive but not inherently sentimental. Waugh doesn’t try to manipulate the listener’s emotions – he tells the story, he fills it with colour and character, then he leaves it there for the listener to bring their own memories and experiences to it. The second track, ‘Big Things’, will make every listener think of their own childhoods but Waugh also lets you into his – again, without manipulation, but it’s impossible not to wonder what happened next in his story, and that’s the mark of great storytelling: satisfy our need for a convincing tale but always leave us wanting more.

The Weir was produced by Shane Nicholson, who has been at the reins of many fine country albums in recent years. Nicholson excels at bringing out the qualities of an artist that are unique to them and making sure the production supports those qualities. In the case of Waugh, it’s giving him space to tell his stories, so that his lyrics are at the forefront. That’s to encourage the listener to stay close and pay attention, so as not to miss a single detail. That attention is rewarded in each song, and with each listening. A song like ‘Mary Lou’ sounds like one thing if you’re not listening closely enough but becomes something else – something better – entirely if you are.

Waugh does not resile from addressing difficult subjects, whether they’re about his life, his past or present, or about the world he sees around him. Adjoining songs ’50 Words’ and ‘Born Here’ are companion pieces, looking at Australian immigration policy and social attitudes towards migrants. ‘Like I Used To’ sounds at first as if it’s going to be about difficulty but it becomes a different kind of love song instead.

In case it’s not already clear, this is an album that offers much for the listener who spends time with it. There’s a lot there on first listening and much more with each go round. Waugh is a thoughtful, expressive songwriter and as a singer he is prepared to be bare and honest. The result is an album that can be confronting sometimes, because it challenges the listener to be bare and honest in return, and also extremely rewarding.

The Weir is out now on Compass Bros Records through Universal Music Australia.

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www.michaelwaugh.com.au