Kasey Chambers is something of a quiet achiever in the Australian music industry. She pops onto the radar every now and then with big singles like “The Captain,” “Not Pretty Enough,” and “Barricades and Brickwalls,” but there’s not a lot of fanfare when she releases albums. However, when they’re full of quality songs like her 11th studio album Dragonfly, there really ought to be.
You might assume that at number 11 Kasey might be running out of steam. Yet Dragonfly shows she’s still a singer-songwriter with plenty to say. There are 19 different tracks on the album in all (“Ain’t No Little Girl” is given two separate treatments). I’ve felt shorter albums than this drag, but the songs are all of such quality I can’t imagine what she could have left out. The album was recorded in two separate sessions – the Sing Sing Sessions were conducted under the guidance of Paul Kelly while the Foggy Mountain Sessions sees Kasey’s brother Nash at the helm. Despite the two different locations and producers, the album comes together beautifully as a cohesive whole.
“Pompeii” is the perfect introduction to this album, a banjo-driven number with a traditional country sound and sublime harmonies from Kasey and her backing band. It sets the scene for an album that has a classic sound deeply rooted in the country music upon which Kasey was raised. I love the gospel-tinged fun of “Golden Rails” and the old Southern blues feel of “Shackle & Chain.”
However, I feel Kasey is at her best when she’s baring her soul. “Ain’t No Little Girl” is powerful stuff which hit this female writer hard. The title track is another master stroke, with intimate lyrics which are so moving.
She’s just as compelling whether she’s telling the story of someone else, like in the exquisite “Behind the Eyes of Henri Young” or the haunting “Annabelle,” or her own story with great humour and a country twang in “Talkin’ Baby Blues.”
Dragonfly features collaborations with a first-class collection of musicians. While she shines in solo mode, duets like “Romeo & Juliet” with Fance Voy and “If We Had a Child” with Keith Urban are some of the album’s highlights. Other tracks like “Jonestown” and “Satellite” aren’t listed as duets, but the strong presence of other voices that complement Kasey’s so beautifully make them feel as if they are.
Dragonfly is released today. Kasey will celebrate its release with a string of shows around the country.
26 January 2017 – West Tamworth Leagues Club, West Tamworth (with Bernard Fanning)
9 February 2017 – Botanic Park, Adelaide (with James Taylor and Bernard Fanning)
10 February 2017 – Taronga Zoo, Mosman (with Thelma Plum)
11 February 2017 – Sirromet Wines, Mt Cotton (with James Taylor and Bernard Fanning)
12 February 2017 – Hope Estate Winery, Pokolbin (with James Taylor and Bernard Fanning)
14 February 2017 – Orange Ex Services Club, Orange (with Bernard Fanning)
15 February 2017 – Albury Entertainment Centre, Albury (with Bernard Fanning)
17 February 2017 – Eastbank Centre, Shepparton (with Bernard Fanning)
18 February 2017 – Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo (with Bernard Fanning)
19 February 2017 – Lakeside Wendouree, Ballarat (with Bernard Fanning)
21 February 2017 – Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra (with Bernard Fanning)
22 February 2017 – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul (with Bernard Fanning)
24 February 2017 – Empire Theatre, Toowoomba (with Bernard Fanning)
25 February 2017 – Saraton Theatre, Grafton (with Bernard Fanning)