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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Kasey Chambers is more than pretty enough, at least based on her talent in concert

The Roxy, West Hollywood, Cal., Feb. 19, 2002

By Dan MacIntosh

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - The restrictive nature of contemporary pop and country radio may have Kasey Chambers wondering if she's pretty enough to attract mainstream attention, but a sold-out house at The Roxy found her to be both charming and moving, as well as pretty.

Don't expect to ever see a pregnant Britney Spears doing concert dates in such a condition, but the six-month-along Chambers performed like a real trouper, even though her extended belly sometimes made playing the guitar a chore.

Drawing from her latest "Barricades and Brickwalls" CD, Chambers presented an inviting mix of raw-edged rock and straight country music before an appreciative crowd.

A cover of Lucinda Williams' "Changed The Locks" and the title track to her new CD were prime examples of Chambers' natural affinity for songs with a strong feminine perspective. Grinding electric guitar support allowed this kitten the opportunity to growl just a bit.

On "A Little Bit Lonesome" from "Barricades..." and the humorous "We're All Gonna Die Someday" from her previous album, "The Captain," provided forums for expressing her strong traditional country roots.

Her attempt at social commentary with "Ignorance" (a hidden track on the new album) was touching to a degree, but it also came off as a rather awkward rewrite of Iris Dement's "Wasteland of the Free." Chambers has mastered writing songs to reveal what's in her heart, but it may take her a while longer to learn how to write clearly about troubling modern problems.

The good news is that Chambers is smart enough to conquer almost any writing style she wishes. It's not a question about whether or not Chambers is pretty enough (her new disc contains the song "Pretty Enough?") to compete with the chart's latest bimbo of the week; instead, one wonders if the powers that be are just too stupid to recognize a true emerging talent right under their noses.

Matthew Ryan, who recorded with Chambers, opened the show with a short, yet poignant, set of Dylan and Springsteen-influenced folk rock. Ironically, when the raspy-voiced singer covered Tom Waits' "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," one could easily picture Ryan sounding exactly like tobacco-ravaged Waits 10 years from now. With his sharply descriptive lyrics, it's not hard to recognize why Chambers has become one of his biggest fans and taken him on the road with her.