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Chambers fails to live up to "Bittersweet"

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., August 9, 2015

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Kasey Chambers may have entitled her latest "Bittersweet," but you would never have known it based on the way she carried on throughout her latest foray onto these shores.

The Australian, who has never quite gained the acclaim here that she richly deserves, exclaimed over and over how she was "excited" to be playing the States, often with a giggle.

The change of pace from life in Oz must have been most satisfying for the singer in a show where she played old, new, unrecorded and covers. Starting with the denser sounding "Wheelbarrow" from "Bittersweet," an album, which while country at its heart, is a bit tougher sounding and sonically expansive.

Chambers returned to her country bona fides with "Still Feeling Blue" and one of her best songs, the aching "Not Pretty Enough."

Chambers was her typically warm, engaging personality with a lot of stories to share. With her father, Bill, who has been a producer and enjoyed a modest, but worthy recording career in his own right in Australia, just to her right on lead guitar, Chambers told about her childhood of living in the remotest part of Australia and even living in the family car for awhile. That was the preamble for "Nullarbor Song," about living in the Outback.

Her good cheer was in contrast to songs like "Is God Real?" where she told the humorous story of her ex being an atheist while she's a Seventh Day Adventist and how she thought it might be confusing for her oldest of three children. She turned the story into something funny, though, with her son saying he believed in God when with her and was an atheist when with his father.

While "Bittersweet" was new for Americans - the disc only came out two weeks ago - but it's been around in her homeland since last August for Chambers. That may explain the curious decision - not that it was a bad one - of playing four unrecorded songs.

One of them, "Talking Baby Blues, proved to be a real change-up, on a song that was autobiographical, fast paced and often humorous.

"Behind the Eyes of Henri Young" was particularly haunting as she said the song was based on a teen, who was sent to jail for stealing food so he and his orphan sister could survive. Young eventually ended up in the prison hole for three years and killed a fellow prisoner after getting out of isolation. The song may have taken liberties with the facts, according to Wikipedia, but it sure sounded good.

Chambers turned in a good reading of White Stripes" "Seven Nation Amy" with Bill providing the key musical moments.

As a result of the unrecorded songs, Chambers did not heavily push "Bittersweet," playing 5 of its 12 songs.

Yes, did turn some attention to "Bittersweet," but, fortunately, that had nothing to do with Chambers' mood and even more quality, her music.

The Roosevelts, a duo, who moved earlier this year from Austin to Nashville, made a very good showing. They may utilize mandolin, but they're not a country outfit. If they must be labeled, call them rootsy/folky Americana.

Not only do the have the looks - both lead singer James Mason and guitarist Jason Kloess sport good looking long beards - but they have the material to booty. The Roosevelts did well in their Boston-area debut.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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