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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New South Welshman Jack Tully and his band, The Seers, recently released their album Harkness Lane, which has influences as diverse as alt-country and psychedelic rock. Tully’s first, solo album was The Keeping, released three years ago and with a more stripped-back sound. Tully has said of the new album: ‘A lot of life can happen in three years and these songs reflect some of this transformation: growth, change, making peace with our stories, psychotherapy journeying, fatherhood. I’m trying to cut away the stuff that doesn’t matter and make space for what does. Some of the album does touch on the darker parts of life but overall I think there is definitely more light this time around.’
The latest single from the album is the atmospheric ‘The Great Tragedy’, and it is an honour to premiere the video here.
Harkness Lane is available now.
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Newcastle singer-songwriter Suz Dorahy has a released a compelling new single, ‘Margharita’. The song was inspired by the hardships of men returned from World War II and the women who shared their lives. While shell shock was named it wasn’t always identified in these returned soldiers who found it hard to adjust to domestic life and sometimes turned to the bottle for solace.
The song acknowledges the difficulties of maintaining relationships under those circumstances, and how love that once existed may be impossible to sustain. Dorahy is clear-eyed and unsentimental in this thought-provoking song.
Listen to ‘Margharita’ on Soundcloud.
Find Suz Dorahy’s music on:
Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify
While Brisbane singer-songwriter Megan Cooper’s second album, Wild Mountain, has been available since July, her album launch is on 28 October so this post just squeaks in under the wire …
The most immediate fact about this album is the same as for Cooper’s first album, Ghosts, Choirs & Kings, and it is that she has a truly lovely voice. The second fact is that she knows how to write for her voice, lyrically and stylistically. The songs on this new album cross several moods, from jaunty to wistful, and all tell a story that is expressed beautifully through her vocals. There are some honkytonk sounds here as well as straight-up pop. She’s also an impressive torch singer.
All of this detail is, of course, a way of trying to describe what is often hard to pin down without sounding schmaltzy: the way music makes a listener feel. So I’ll go for the schmaltz and say that Wild Mountain brings a lot of joy, as well as a lot of meaningful entertainment, which, for this listener, is akin to the Holy Grail. Cooper has a lot of talent and the skill to bring it to listeners, and it’s all evident on this album.
Wild Mountain is out now. The album launch is on 28 October 2018 at The Black, Albion (Brisbane).
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Canadian-Australian Tracy McNeil and her band, The Goodlife, perform a certain kind of West Coast country-rock that has a particular ability: to induce happiness. It was evident on their last album, Thieves, and it’s there again on their new single, ‘Stars’, from their upcoming album, You Be the Lightning, set for release in 2019. ‘Stars’ has a lovely pep to it, and McNeil’s vocals that immediately carry you along into a dreamlike groove.
Pre-order ‘Stars’ here: https://TracyMcNeil.lnk.to/Stars
‘STARS’ LAUNCH DATES
Wed November 7 & Thursday November 8
Australian Music Week
Fri November 9
Grand Junction Hotel – The Junkyard
88 Church St, Maitland NSW
8pm, free entry.
Sun November 11
Northcote Social Club
With special guest Jim Lawrie
301 High St, Northcote VIC
Country music has a strong lineage of drinking songs. There are the bro-country songs that seem to encourage rampant alcohol consumption, but they’re of a piece and don’t offer much of a story compared with the songs that are about the singer’s relationship with alcohol and usually extend to ruminations on life in general, through the prism of that relationship.
Alabaman J.P. Harris is in the latter category with his single ‘When I Quit Drinking’, from his new album Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing. As the chorus goes, ‘When I quit drinking I start thinking about starting up again’ – but that’s actually the least sophisticated line amongst the highly entertaining lyrics that are married with a clean honkytonk sound.
For over a decade, Harris travelled the US, often alone, hitchhiking and hopping freight trains while making his living as a farm labourer, shepherd, woodsman, and carpenter. These days, apparently, he doesn’t call himself a musician so much as a carpenter who writes country songs. Carpentry seems an apt trade for a songwriter whose songs have a structure that is not only solid and strong but made so neatly that the listener detects only the art wrapped around them. ‘When I Quit Drinking’ is a very good song, and there are more on his album.
Listen to ‘When I Quit Drinking:
Apple Music | Soundcloud | Spotify
Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing is out now on Free Dirt Records.