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Kasey Chambers becomes a wayward angel

By Jeffrey B. Remz, October 2004

Life has changed a lot for Australian singer Kasey Chambers since she was last heard from on "Barricades & Brickwalls" two years ago.

For starters, her then pregnancy turned into motherhood with the birth of her son, Talon. And that meant she never undertook a full-fledged, extensive tour to spread her name and music on this side of the Pacific, though Chambers' popularity in her homeland steadily increased.

Which leads to her latest, "Wayward Angel," an album continuing in a country and rootsy vein that could further boost Chambers' appeal in America. She gained ac-claim from the get go with "The Captain" in 2000 and followed that up with "Barricades & Brickwalls" in 2002. She did not get a lot of airplay on radio, but Chambers certainly generated a lot of positive ink about her recordings and live performances.

In Australia, Chambers already has been accorded the fame of being recognized wherever she goes. Ah, the price of success.

While press materials quote Chambers, 28, as saying "Wayward Angel" is her most personal musical release, Chambers says in a telephone interview from Avoca Beach, 1 1/2 hours north of Sydney, "It's not particularly something I was going for. I don't like to think about that too much. I don't set aside time to write. I don't songwrite a lot. Sometimes I go months and months without songwriting. I'm not one of those disciplined songwriters who gets up (and writes). The songs come out when they want to. That very much happened with this album."

As evidence of the fact that Chambers could not be accused of being prolific when it comes to churning out songs, the pretty singer with the at times soft voice says the new disc took three years to write.

"I don't ever think what direction I want the album to go. It's not a conscious decision to be more or less like the other ones. It's probably a lazy way to look at it. There's a lot less pressure because I let the songs come to me."

Chambers says she likes to keep a fresh sound in the recording studio, meaning she does not spend much time on pre-production efforts trying to nail down how everything will come out when the real recording starts.

Chambers says the recording process "works different for everybody. It just sort of feels comfortable to do it that way for me. Sometimes I write a song I have in my head the exact idea of how I want that song to sound (when we) go in the studio, and sometimes I have absolutely no idea what the song is going to sound like that. I like working like that."

"We did this album a lot more live than we ever did before," says Chambers of "Wayward Angel." "We just went in the studio and the electric guitars and mandolin were all done there live with the drums being put down and my vocals were being put down. I like doing that a lot. I had a great band, (and) I had a lot of (confidence) about working with Nash, my producer. As a producer, he knows when not to say something as much as when to say something, which is important. Let the music be as creative as it can. He doesn't put boundaries on any songs."

Nash is Nash Chambers, Kasey's brother.

For Chambers, music has been a family effort for a long time. As a kid, she toured with her parents and brother as the Dead Ringer Band. The group released three albums in Australia to critical success and a degree of commercial success.

Chambers' solo career was an outgrowth of the Dead Ringer Band.

Now, her father, Bill, is lead guitarist in her band. Nash produces and handles the sound at her live shows, and her mother, Diane, usually is the one selling merchandise at concerts.

While the family thing can be a difficult proposition in the music world, Chambers is quite happy to work with her brother as producer.

"I think the main reason is...Nash brings out the best in me as an artist in the studio, and I think that's the job of a producer," she says.The producer's job is "not so much making everything sound like that producer. Nash does some projects where he has to take over completely and mold it into a certain thing and some projects he realizes he has to let them go where he lets them go. That's one of the specialties of Nash as a producer. Also, it's just luck. He's my brother. I see him every day. He has a little baby who's six months younger than mine. They play together every day, He realizes so much where I'm coming from musically and where I'm going musically."

One aspect of her musical career Chambers does not seem entirely comfortable with is the public acclaim. Chambers says that while she was in the family group growing up, the Dead Ringer Band never was all that well known in the Land of Oz.

She seems to wrestle with having a personal life and fame on "Wayward Angel" on the songs "For Sale" and "Hollywood."

The former squarely finds Chambers trying to come to grips with celebrity versus the privacy she once knew and apparently in many ways longs for again.

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