The Captain(EMI)

Kasey Chambers album cover

Well I never lived through the great depression/Sometimes I feel as though I did, Kasey Chambers sings, setting a tone of ageless wisdom in the opening song, "Cry Like A Baby." This Australian lass is a fresh, over-the-top talent from Down Under, a bright new force as a singer and songwriter.

There's the jangled road to self-discovery depicted in the title track, and the heartbreak of breakup in "You Got The Car," in which she sings that You got the car and I got the break/I've had as much as I can take/And my heart can't handle anymore.

Kasey may be the youngest possessor of a world-weary voice since the falling star of Janis Joplin illuminated the musical landscape. Her inflections, timing and delivery reflect the heritage of her father, the album's producer and a former music teacher who made sure his kids appreciated Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers. Those influences prod her introspective viewpoint, voiced in "Don't Talk Back": And after all that I've done/I'm not half what I hoped that I'd become/There's still a long way to go.

There's the courageous confessional plea of "Don't Go," with its hurtful admission, Don't you understand that I'm stranded/In a feeling I can't shake/Don't you realize that I'm frightened/Of all the things you're gonna take.

How many lives has this woman lived, anyway? Just for good measure she ends her set with the bouncy and slightly blue "We're All Gonna Die Someday."

There's a hue and cry nowadays for country music to venture beyond the safe - and often boring - confines of cookie-cutter artists and formula songs. It'd be a whole new ball game if country radio would give Kasey a chance at the bat.

-- Gerry Wood.

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