Kasey Chambers; "Barricades and Brickwalls"

In 1999 Kasey Chambers came out with her first recording, "The Captain". Reviews were quite good so I bought it based on two things. First that Stereophile liked it and secondly that Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris liked her, and often went to see her perform. Her background is with a country influence but she is from Australia so she is clearly not a country singer. She is a range of pop, rock, acoustic, country and maybe some Australian folk(?) She tends towards the Lucinda/ Emmylou vocal style, but I've grown to believe she's more diverse with greater emotional range than the other two. Now add in the girlish voice of say Rickie Lee Jones and I think it's closing in on Kasey.
Her latest offering, "Barricades and Brickwalls" is a deeper look into Kasey as she exposes her emotions regarding love, loss and life. If you've never heard her before, I would recommend you listen to #2, "Not Pretty Enough" followed by #6 Nullarbor Song", #7 "Million Tears" then go back to #1 and play the disk straight through. This will allow you to get the scope of Kasey without any misconceptions about what is coming. To start with the band, which is quite good, consists of Kasey, song writer, vocals and acoustic guitar ( listed on some tracks.) She has a drummer, bass, percussion and two or more electric and/or acoustic guitars as a base band. There are also tracks that may include cello, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, dobra, lap steel guitar or slide guitar. She has guest vocal appearances by Camille Te Nahu, Lucinda Williams, Buddy Miller, and Paul Kelly. It's impressive when such a young singer is able to pull together such talent.
Now it's Kasey's voice that for me is the essence of raw emotion. It seems as if every recording is being played for the first time with the emotion she is conveying still fresh. I so admire vocalists who are able to express there inner feelings in such a real and convincing way. Kasey uses her throat to sing with. Her voice is an ever changing palate of sound using a harsh gravelly even scratchy basis. When she sings in her lower throat she includes her upper chest giving depth and tonality. The recording quality is good enough that you can see a size difference in her voice from throat to chest. The next score she will shift to the upper throat along with using the depth of her mouth. This makes for a much airier, stronger and more open sound. She may then go back to mid throat, small and raspy. At the same time she may change from an open load voice all the way down to a whisper. It's her whisper that she is masterful at controlling. Such a small sound with such great emotion attached. At times I simply want to reach out and hold her, help to ease her pain, it's so real, so alive. As I mentioned above she also has some Rickie Lee Jones, in this I mean she has a childish innocence about her voice. I think it's not as much that as her accent. She adds a special something to the English language that for me is most irritable. I highly recommend both of her disks, she right now is my favorite female vocalist.
One point, my copy of "Barricades and Brickwalls" is on the EMI Music Australia label. I bought it as an import in hopes of a better quality recording than that of "The Captain" on Asylum Records (domestic). I've now confirmed my suspicions, a friend of mine bought his copy of "B&B" at Best Buy on a domestic label, (and different cover design), it sounds much worse. It's edgier, brighter with less depth and emotion.
One final think, about a minute or more after the final 15th track is an unlisted hidden song. If you don't feel Kasey's emotion after this song you are out of touch with your emotions.
JD, you've hit my hot button. I love female vocals and am intrigued by hidden songs. I will try to get the import CD, but do you know if the album is available on LP?
I first became acquainted with Kasey when I saw her on Austin City Limits with Steve Earle (2001 show). At that time, my impression was that she was an "Australian Iris Dement", one of my favorite country/folk/roots singers -- I'm really not sure how to classify Iris. At any rate, if you love Kasey, try Iris, especially her "Infamous Angel" album. And, can you give me your source for Kasey's import CD?
Twl, I'm not sure about vinyl.
Fishinfool, I buy a lot of my music from cdconnection.com they have a huge selection to chose from, often times multiple import options and limited edition imports. The best thing about it is you can save your shopping basket. When ever I get suggested music, I store it at cd connection until I have the money. I have about 50 disks in my list right now. The other good thing is they have "golden ear" recommendations. The bad thing is you have to know who your looking for, it's not set up for casual browsing.
I actually recommend every single song *except* those preferred by Jadem6. Like everything else in this hobby, it's all about personal choice in the end, huh?
I love Kasey, but was a little disappointed with Wayward Angel.
I agree, I hope she can find her magic again on her next disk. I am planning on seeing her this summer.
I saw her for her last show of the abbreviated tour last year at the Keswick Theater in Philadelphia. What a trooper! Despite her obvious pain/discomfort she carried on for a full show, though had to beg off on the encores as I remember. Excellent backing band as well, even her Mom came down from the CD sales stand to join in on bass for a couple of older family band tunes!
You should seek out Kasey's DVD - "Behind the Barricades" which was released about 12 moths ago in Australia.Shows her touring, recording parts of "Barricades and Brickwalls",being interviewed,performing live and hanging out with her band - an interesting and enjoyable disc which will give you some idea of who she is.Quality is OK.
One of my favorites disc's. Spends much time in my cd player and I prefer vinyl. I have not enjoyed any of her other cd's thus far. Was originaly turned on to her by JD.
Thanks JD!
I picked up her Wayward Angel sometime ago and did not think much about it until a few plays. The song writing in the album is pretty good and the recording is not bad as well, mostly ascoutics I think. I just became her fan and time to check her other CDs.........:-)
I love her!
Hey Ray,
I saw her this year in an outdoor amphitheater at the Minnesota Zoo. She gave an awesome show, and what I hadn't known is her father plays many different guitars for her. her brother is her manager and her mom is her merchandise manager. Her mom did not tour this year because she was home taking care of Kasey's baby!

The true discovery of the concert was her back up band. They used Kasey's lead guitarist and had an excellent bluegrass/rock band lead by another incredible female vocalist. The name of the band was "Greencard" and they have two disks available. I found them at www.cdconnection.com my favorite site for cd's. What I like about this site is they save your shopping basket forever, so if when I hear of music I simply add it to my basket for later purchase. They also have many import options and limited edition presses.

Kasey is wonderful, check out Greencard too, the lead female is very similar.

JD,I guess its obvious that im a huge fan!Id love to see her live!I will check out Greencard,,Thanks,Ray
Good to see you folk enjoying one of "ours". I seen her here in Australia when she was touring her debut CD, and she was just starting to get the rave reviews she deserves.
Her band are excellent, and I especially enjoyed the guitar work from her dad.She is real down to earth and hasn't grown a big head with her career and I look forward to her next recording.
I have read where she has said she is influenced by Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris, another 2 artists I love.
I still rate The Captain as my fave of hers.

Chris,Your right ,,her dad plays some very good guitar,great band,very tight!!!I havent heard The Captain,,ill have to get it,,any more talent from down under you could turn us on to?Ray
Hi Ray, you could also try
Mia Dyson. Parking Lot.
Geoff Achison. Mystery Train.
regards from downunder
Thanks Rob!I was able to hear Mia Dyson,,,,very good blues! Tasty guitar playing and great blues singing! I will look up Geoff next!Ray