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Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson

Rattlin' Bones – 2008 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Rick Cornell

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CDs by Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson

The most striking element here - well, after Kasey Chambers' thrill of a voice, that is - is the number of different sounds that surface in the turned-down, trad-leaning setting. That Chambers is comfortable with bluegrass, folk and bare-bones country is no surprise; those were all key components of her outback musical upbringing, and all have echoed to varying degrees across her Aus-country solo records.

Still, the ease in which Chambers, her multi-instrumentalist (banjo, resonator guitar, and mandolin for starters) husband Shane Nicholson and assorted like-minded accompanists traffic in those styles and others, is impressive. Everything works, from the honey-dipped honky-tonk of Sweetest Waste of Time and the classically picked bluegrass of The House That Never Was to the primal stomp of Jackson Hole and the banjo-nudged gospel of Woe Is Mine, which could have been written yesterday or 75 years ago. Adding to the variety is the way in which Chambers and Nicholson choose to let their voices work together, alternately swapping verses, harmonizing and standing alone. It's not a stretch to say this outing suggests what it might sound like if Buddy and Julie Miller took a crack at Levon Helm's "Dirt Farmer." And that's high praise on several counts in the roots/country world.