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Kasey Chambers

Barricades & Brickwalls – 2002 (Warner)

Reviewed by Michael Berick

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CDs by Kasey Chambers

To paraphrase the disc's title track, "barricades and brickwalls won't stop" Kasey Chambers on the road to success. The 25-year-old Australian's second solo album is a terrific set of music that projects both a Lucinda Williams-like grittiness and a youthful vulnerability. The terrifically tough-talking title track opens the disc with a knockout punch, and then she reveals her softer, more sensitive side on the second tune, the poignant "Not Pretty Enough." Throughout the record she nicely laces feisty country rockers with quieter ballads, while also successfully venturing into Hank Williams honky-tonk territory with "A Little Bit Lonesome."

Chambers' crackly sweet voice imbues her songs with a straight-from-the-heart honesty. This is particularly true on unadorned tunes like the bittersweet "Fall Into You" and the picturesque "The Nullarbor Song," which captivate the listener with their subtle emotional strength. While her previous effort, "The Captain," stands a sparkling debut, she steps it up with more confidence this time around. Chambers, whether she's being a heartbreaker and heartbroken, makes her songs radiate with such passion and poise that prove neither she nor her music should be ignored.