Discovering Kasey Chambers and America all at once

Discovering new music is a great way to spend the day.

And while Kasey Chambers isn’t exactly new, she was new to me and when I “discover” a new artist I use my Netflix approach. Try a show or two and it if sticks, resonates and grabs me, I’m all in.

Chambers is playing The Ark on Friday night and that’s where I first heard about this “alt-country music import” from Australia. I’ve written many preview stories for the great Ann Arbor music venue but for some reason I decided to You Tube Ms. Chambers – it probably had to do with her influences including Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, two of my favs.

It also may have had something to do with Netflix. My new favorite show “Rake” also comes from Australia so maybe the land down under can win me over in music like it did television.

I found myself with plenty of time to listen to music as I jumped in the driver’s seat of my son’s new truck to drive it west to San Diego. Maybe Kasey wouldn’t mind coming along for the ride.

As a songwriter myself, I am pretty picky and particular when adding music to my I-Tunes playlist – although I do like Malibu, the new Miley Cyrus song so taste is all relative if not delicious.

The first song from Kasey I checked out was a song called “Dam.”

Do you think
That you’ve come far
Through winds so hard

Those were the first words I heard Kasey sing. I knew right then and there that I was all in. Those words sung with that voice stuck, resonated and grabbed me. So it was full research mode which left me pleased to “discover” Kasey but upset that it took me so long. The song Dam was on her first album – kind of – released in 2000. That’s 17 freakin’ years ago. I was glad I was able to move that rock I had been living under but would wear the scars of that weight every time I listened to this “new” music.


Dam was a “special bonus” track on her debut album. In other words, a song she really liked but not enough to knock off one of the 12 songs she liked more. So, there are 12 songs BETTER than Dam. Well, dam!

The next song I downloaded was The Captain, the title track off that debut album. This song harkens to Lucinda Williams – to my ears at least. And that’s a huge compliment.

Like Dam, this song has a nice heavy guitar layered in the mix which gives the motor a nice gritty sound that complements Kasey’s beautiful voice. Successfully mixing gritty and beautiful are the goals of every songwriter – at least they should be.

Rattlin’ Bones is a song Kasey did with Shane Nicholson, and the Civil Wars wish they could sound this good. And they sound pretty good.

I decided to fast forward 17 years to the reason Kasey is heading to The Ark on Friday night and that would be her new album “Dragonfly,” released earlier this year. “My words just sound like a waterfall,” are lyrics in the song Satellite and that’s the best review I can give of Kasey. She sounds like a waterfall.

So while I was heading west through the plains of Iowa and Nebraska and into the mountains of Colorado and the amazing views of Utah I didn’t take Springsteen or the Eagles or Petty or Cash with me (well, I did … it’s a long drive), I rode shotgun with Kasey Chambers.

Better late than never. And grateful to have someone so amazing along for the ride.

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