Kasey Chambers was just 11 years old when she began her career as a member of The Dead Ringer Band, a group led by her parents. A little over a decade ago, then 23, the Australian released her first solo album to considerable international acclaim. Since then, she's gone on to become a huge country star in her own country, and her albums continue to win over critics across the globe.
Kasey's newest CD, "Rattlin' Bones," is a team effort with husband Shane Nicholson and starts with the title track, which happens to be the first song Kasey and Shane wrote together.
When you hear Kasey Chambers sing, it's hard to imagine she grew up anywhere other than in the rural American south on a diet of traditional country songs by George Jones or Loretta Lynn. In reality, she's Australian, born and bred.
But Kasey was raised in a rural setting. When she was very young, Bill Chambers moved his family from the city to the Australian outback, one of the most barren places in the world. Kasey and her record producer brother Nash grew up singing country music around a campfire, before they returned to civilization, forming The Dead Ringer Band, and making their mark on Australian country music. Today, Kasey and her singing and songwriting partner Shane Nicholson, also Australian, are parents to two young boys.
Although duets have a long history in country music, they are also among the hardest songs to sing well. On "Rattlin' Bones," Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson have managed the feat of recording not one, but an entire album of strong, original duets. Or as Kasey describes it, "an album that sounds like a band with two singers in it."
Throughout her career, Kasey Chambers' critics have commented almost as much on the singer's loud and sometimes childlike - sometimes strident, voice as they have on her stunning songwriting. While her voice is still strong and pure in the songs on "Rattlin' Bones," it's softened a bit by Shane Nicholson's warm tones, especially when they are singing in harmony. As you hear in "Wildflower," a song they sing in turn, harmonizing only on the chorus, it's quite a soulful blend when they mix.
In addition to the 14 original songs and fine vocals, there is a sense of intimacy on "Rattlin' Bones" that can be credited to Nash Chamber's understated production. And while this CD doesn't sound like the big new country hits out of Nashville, don't confuse "understated" with "unappreciated." "Rattlin' Bones" has already won the Australian Recording Industry Association Award for Best Country release of 2008, and also received a nomination for Album of the Year.
Despite the serious tone on many of the songs on "Rattlin' Bones," it's obvious from the "The House That Never Was" that Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson didn't take themselves too seriously while recording their first album together. When was the last time you heard an artist leave in the laughter that accompanies the bad start of a song?