IT has been 15 years since Kasey Chambers announced herself as the female face of Australian alt country with her debut album The Captain. Since then her career has been through a number of guises and permutations, as a solo artist, as a collaborator with a handful of country and rock singers, and on Rattlin’ Bones (2008) and Wreck and Ruin (2012), the two award-winning albums with her husband Shane Nicholson.
The break-up of their relationship last year forms the nucleus of Bittersweet, Chambers’ first solo outing of original material since 2010s Little Bird, although the topic comes in ambiguous tones for the most part and is only a part of this engaging return from the NSW central coast-based singer.
Shades of gospel and bluegrass pepper the song Wheelbarrow, co-written with Chambers’ fiddler sidekick Ashleigh Dallas, before it kicks in as a full-on rock assault, while the fast-paced Stalker is a country romp on which a wordy Chambers hardly has time to draw breath. She has called on an A-list of fellow musicians to accompany her on this impressive collection, including Fanning, Dallas, guitarist Dan Kelly and her dad Bill Chambers. Producer Nick DiDia has done a fine job of bringing them together.
With Bittersweet she shows she has come through it with some distinction.