Kasey Chambers

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Kasey Chambers


There won’t be much time to sleep when Chambers tours over spring and summer

When Kasey Chambers writes, she channels subliminal slabs of the past from her mentors. The late Patsy Cline may have been the original inspiration for her new western swing tune Bring Back My Heart . But during the incubation she also found space for a trumpet and a nod to septuagenarian star Merle Haggard.

“When I was writing it I had this moment of Patsy Cline or something like that in the way that I was singing,” Chambers explains on the eve of her national tour to promote her fifth solo album Little Bird.

“The trumpet solo was icing on the cake. I had the idea when writing it I could hear trumpet. That’s weird, I never heard trumpet in one of my songs before. I never thought about Merle Haggard in it but that’s probably where I’ve drawn some of that from.”

Chambers, 34 and mother of two sons, has long been a beacon for peers in her soul-baring songs. So it’s no surprise she creates assertive women in the title track and the rollicking hook-heavy Georgia Brown. “They are different types of woman – new age and old timey kind,” she confesses of the ladies in her tunes. “Both are strong women from different times, mouthing words. There are no specific Georgia and Johnny’s,” she says of her characters, “but I’m sure over the next few years of playing the song will have Georgia and Johnny’s coming up to me saying ‘Is that about me?’”

The eclectic country, bluegrass and western swing hybrid enables her to skate above and beyond the mainstream in her distinctive feisty fashion. Chambers produced the album with The Millionaires – her father Bill, brother Nash, husband Shane Nicholson, Jim Moginie, Jeff McCormack and John Watson – recording at Nash’s Foggy Mountain Studio, which was a vast contrast to Jimmy Barnes’s studio where she and Shane cut the ARIA award winning Rattlin’ Bones disc.

Across Little Bird, Chambers delivers salutes to Haggard, Hank Williams and Gram Parsons but The Flood singer Kevin Bennett was a surprising duet partner on Love Like A Hurricane. “It’s one of my favourite songs, I didn’t think when it started out it would be a duet,” Chambers reveals.

“I went in the studio and thought I need a harmony on this. Kevin Bennett is one of my favourite singers. When he came in the studio to play on it he started singing it, trying to get the melody of the song. I thought ‘shit that’s awesome; I’m going to take my vocals out.’ It became a duet and is now one of my favourite moments on the album.”

There’s also a Hank Williams homage she was apparently oblivious to. It starts with the mansion on the hill in her joyous entrée song Someone Like Me, and seeing the light in the duet. “You have listened closely,” she quips. “I haven’t even noticed those things until now. Maybe I just stole them in a subliminal way. For me, as a writer, sometimes lines are just in there because they rhyme. When a line comes to you from you don’t know where it’s probably just something you listened to.”

Chambers believes her album shares similarities with her early discs. “It was back to that Captain and Barricades kind of thing,” she explains. “I took it song for song in the studio; concentrating on each song. I even bring a different band in for each song. I didn’t realise it was quite so diverse until after I recorded it. Carnival was more a concept album.”

Chambers believes, however, her creativity has not been tamed by success. “Nothing is as planned as it might sound, they’re all accidental things that kind of happen,” she figures. “I feel the album is a positive vibe all around – a sad country moment or two, but generally a very positive record in the general feel.

“The first two songs starting with rhythm mandolin – that’s what I wrote the whole album with. I don’t really play one, but when I was writing the songs it was a mandolin in my head I was hearing. It ended up being one of the main rhythm instruments throughout the record – it’s what it sounds like in my head. I want it to sound like that when you first put it on.”

There’s no mystery in the identity of the minstrel in Nullabor – The Biggest Backyard, the most autobiographical song on the album. “I’m someone who draws a lot from memories when it comes to song-writing,” Chambers explains. “I always have done. Waking up every morning – my brother Nash and me – we thought we were the luckiest kids in the world, we had the biggest backyard in the world. Every day it looked different – it was a new exploration and adventure. We would look outside and see where we were. I only have fond memories of that time.”

Equally productive but painful at the time was a song that bloomed when roses pricked her conscience. She forgot Valentine’s Day until singing spouse Shane showered her with presents including flowers and breakfast in bed. The Copacabana chanteuse was as red-faced as those roses but she acted fast.

Chambers, mother of two sons, fled the marital bed and wrote aptly titled song The Stupid Things I Do – the hidden track here. “Actually, it’s a Valentine’s Day present for Shane, it was a bit of forced luck,” Chambers confesses. “I woke up in the morning and Shane had presents, flowers, breakfast made – all those lovely things. I had forgotten it was Valentine’s Day. He went and had a shower and I thought ‘shit, I’ll get a present quickly’ so I went in and wrote that song. The fact it came out of me just being slack was a good thing.”

Chambers shot a video for her title track and hopes to build on success of her songs in TV shows such as The Sopranos, CSI, Underbelly, Crossing Jordan and Dawson’s Creek. “I even had a song in Days Of Our Lives around the same time as The Sopranos,” Chambers recalls cheerfully. “I have also had songs in a few other shows I don’t even know the names of,” she laughs.

There won’t be much time to sleep when Chambers tours over spring and summer to promote Little Bird on Liberation Records.

KASEY CHAMBERS launches her new album Little Bird (out now through Liberation) and plays Frankston Performing Arts Centre on October 15 (tickets 9784 1060 or

artscentre.frankston.vic.gov.au), Costa Hall , Geelong on November 5 (tickets 5225 1200 or gpac.org.au) and The Palais Theatre in St Kilda on November 6 (tickets from ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100).