Kasey Chambers & the Fireside Disciples
For those unfamiliar with Kasey Chambers (which a few short weeks ago included me), she is Australia’s most successful Country singer and this is her twelfth studio album. She is joined on Campfire by the Fireside Disciples, which include Chambers father, elder Alan Pigram, and Brandon Dodd of Grizzly Train. The album is inspired by the campfire songs of her young life growing up on the Nullarbor Plain.
What immediately hit me is Chamber’s pretty damn unique voice. Feminine, powerful, haunting, all of the qualities that keep a listener completely engaged. It commands your attention in the same way that Johnny Cash, Jerome Wincek, Fleming McWilliams, and EmmyLou Harris’ voices do. It’s very traditional sounding, which makes it stick out like a sore thumb when compared to her Radio Pop Country contemporaries.
There are so many personal favorites to choose from here. I absolutely “Abraham” which is this brilliant mix between Ani DiFranco’s early work and old Gospel spirituals. It’s gentle acoustic lead work and subtle harmonies are just un-freakin’-believable. This song will completely melt you. The haunting “Orphan Heart” hits me in the feels as well. It’s got a chant-laced melody that immediately grabs you and harmonies that will send chills down your spine.
The animal-centric musical fables (the catchy as all-get-out call and response of “Big Fish,” the Bluegrass stylings of “This Little Chicken,” and the cautionary “The Fox and the Bird”) are pretty fascinating as well in my opinion. Maybe they aren’t the most “song-oriented” pieces on Campfire but the storytelling prowess Chambers & Co. exhibit here feels as if they are making a historical record for future generations.
Overall, this is a fantastic album. This is certainly not my favorite genre of music, but Chambers enchanting voice quickly catches your attention. The band keep your attention from that moment on with such traditional instrumentation and approach that it all feels like an alternative to pretty much everything most people know about. Having grown up in a family of amateur Bluegrass musicians, I can tell you assuredly that Campfire is the real deal.
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