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Album Review: Kasey Chambers – Bittersweet

3 min read

Beloved Australian singer/songwriter and renowned storyteller Kasey Chambers returns to release her highly anticipated seventh solo studio album Bittersweet; her first venture without her brother Nash Chambers on production duties, which is already one huge step out of the singer’s comfort zone. Admirably, Bittersweet was recorded live in the studio over a minimal seven days in April this year, and we expect nothing less of a decent album from a ten time APRA Award winner, 10 time ARIA award winner, 20 time Golden Guitar winner…you get it. Kasey worked with a stellar line up when writing/recording the new album, consisting of; Powderfinger’s Bernard Fanning, Ashleigh Dallas, Bill Chambers, Dan Kelly, Declan Kelly and Matthew Engelbrecht.

Kasey Chambers BittersweetThe banjo sets the folky tone of Oh Grace, and as per usual with a Kasey Chambers song we are graced by some wonderful melodies and harmonies. The beginning of Is God Real introduces a track with a sound not often heard from the singer, it’s the closest to pop she has been since her work on Carnival; it is a subtle track asking big questions about a higher power, it doesn’t contain the strongest vocal work delivered but the concept of the track impacts instead. Lead single Wheelbarrow is introduced and arranged with an edginess worthy of a stand alone release, the gritty vocals and messiness of the various instruments being played creates this dynamic work of art someone only of Kasey’s calibre could pull off; the acoustic guitar drives the mellow I Would Do, that touching ‘I would do anything for you’ track many a songwriter lays down. Hell Of A Way To Go opens with smooth but punchy electric guitar riff that is memorable, the melody line allows for Kasey to deliver her vocal and lyrics with her trademark belty twang in the catchiest of ways.

House On A Hill demonstrates Chambers’ knack for storytelling through a down tempo composition, the perfect way to do this is to draw focus on the vocal and this is done sufficiently to tell the tale; she also manages to do this in the opposite manner, Stalker is one of the most faster pieces of country/folk on the album with a killer part for the banjo and the electric guitar to play. Kasey goes cliche and questions life after death for the liars of the world, whether it would be Heaven Or Hell, another catchy banjo driven folk number; Bernard Fanning takes on lead vocals/backing vocals/piano/acoustic guitar duties in the title-track Bittersweet, it is a pretty little number where the vocals compliment each other and the instrumentation is wondrous. Too Late To Save Me tells the story of a woman whose reputation precedes her, with the help of Kasey’s stronger vocal style, the return of the banjo and that awesome electric guitar. Christmas Day is a sentimental take on the real meaning of that special time of year, and I’m Alive is a lively track driven by the energetic harmonica, acoustic guitar and the punchy vocal.

Bittersweet is the the perfect title best fit to describe the sound Kasey Chambers has gone for the record; there’s the gritty country girl she’s known for along with elements of rock and folk, with enough sentimentality to balance it all out. Again Kasey has managed to deliver an album that is well written, wonderfully recorded and humbly delivered; there’s not an ounce of question as to why she is an award winning artist, songwriting is her speciality and Australis should be proud of her abilities. Just like the rest of her albums over her 15 year long career, Bittersweet does not fall shortand leaves you yearning for more