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Guitar Town – Steve Earle

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“Guitar Town,” the debut album by Steve Earle, is a gritty and authentic exploration of life on the road, the struggles of blue-collar America, and the power of music as a means of expression. Released in 1986, this album marked the emergence of a fresh voice in country and rock music, combining Earle’s songwriting prowess with his raw, rebellious spirit.

From the first chords of the title track, “Guitar Town,” it’s clear that Earle has something special to offer. The song’s driving rhythm and Earle’s distinctive, slightly gravelly voice set the tone for an album that blends country, rock, and folk influences into a unique sound that’s distinctly his own. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of a restless wanderer seeking adventure and purpose, a theme that resonates throughout the album.

Steve Earle’s songwriting is the heart and soul of “Guitar Town.” His ability to craft narratives that are both personal and universal shines through on tracks like “Hillbilly Highway” and “My Old Friend the Blues.” These songs are like short stories, filled with vivid characters and poignant observations about life’s challenges and triumphs. Earle’s songwriting is unapologetically honest, often addressing issues like unemployment, the allure of the open road, and the complexities of love.

The album’s production reflects its time while maintaining a timeless quality. The instrumentation strikes a balance between the traditional sounds of country music and the energetic spirit of rock and roll. The twang of guitars, the steady beat of drums, and Earle’s impassioned vocals come together to create a dynamic and engaging sonic experience.

“Guitar Town” isn’t just an album; it’s a snapshot of a moment in time when an artist came onto the scene with a fresh perspective and an unapologetic attitude. Songs like “Someday,” with its catchy hooks and infectious energy, and “Fearless Heart,” a passionate declaration of independence, showcase Earle’s ability to craft memorable tunes with substance.

The album’s title track, “Guitar Town,” is a standout moment that encapsulates the album’s themes of yearning and ambition. With its catchy melody and vivid lyrics, it captures the dreams and aspirations of those who seek a better life through their art and music.

“Guitar Town” is a remarkable debut that introduced the world to Steve Earle’s unique voice and perspective. The album’s blend of country, rock, and folk elements, coupled with Earle’s unfiltered songwriting, creates a collection of songs that remain relevant and resonant decades after their release. “Guitar Town” is not just a classic of its era but a testament to the enduring power of music to capture the essence of the human experience.

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Essential Listening This Weekend – “Say What You Mean” – Hana & Jessie-Lee’s Bad Habits

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Hana and Jessie-Lee’s Bad Habits have been a staple of the rising alt-country scene in Australia live since the release of their debut album “Southlands” in 2017. They have played at various festivals such as WOMADelaide, Out On The Weekend, Brunswick Music Festival, Adelaide Guitar Festival, Dashville Skyline & Queenscliff Music Festival, and Tamworth Country Music Festival, where they have tirelessly worked to perfect the band’s sound.

Eleven songs make up the album “Say What You Mean,” which was recorded at Alex O’Gorman’s Pakenham studio and features the lead singles “Arrowhead” and “Tallest Of Tales” (which have been added to high rotation on ABC Country) as well as “Paper Boats” and a variety of rock’n’roll swagger, country influences, and soul ballads. Hana and Jessie-Lee have been performing music together for nearly a decade. On this new album, they are accompanied by the Bad Habits rhythm section, which consists of two of Melbourne’s best musicians, Tommy Brooks (bass, slide, pedal steel) and Patrick Wilson (drums & percussion). Additionally, Norwood (backing vocals), Joe Cope (keys), Jordie Gilmour (drums), and Kate Alexander (backing vocals) make an appearance. With the exception of three tracks, Alex O’Gorman mixed the album at Phaedra Studios. John Lee mastered it, while Stephen Mowat (Wilsn) mixed the other tracks.

Love, awful first dates, insomnia, loss dread, longing home, and avoiding troublesome individuals are some of the lyrical topics covered. In the first track, “Misery Queen,” the band playfully points out the problems in a relationship while playing languid rock and roll in the style typical of the South. Without missing a beat, Jessie-Lee strides into one of her characteristic earworm guitar riffs on her distinctive green Gretsch, which harmonises perfectly with Hana’s brassy vocals. Title track “Say What You Mean” is a raucous rock anthem that implores people to be honest rather than silent in their relationships, while “Under The Vines” is a haunting tribute to homesickness in the vein of Bruce Springsteen.

“When we were picking songs to put on the album, it was a matter of what fit together, and what felt good playing as a band. I think I had about 25 songs and was still writing new material right up until we were going into the studio. We played a few at shows in their rawest form to see how they felt, how people reacted and that helped us make the final decision on the songs included.” – Hana

“These Shambles,” a cover of an older song with updated lyrics, is a bonus track on the CD and digital releases.

“We decided to record These Shambles again because it seemed to be a crowd favourite at shows” says Jessie-Lee Zubkevych of the re-record. “People sang along, and the song had changed shape into a bit more of an upbeat heavier version.”

In support of the new album, the band is taking to the road to play some new places and return to some old favourites all over Australia. For the first time, Tasmania, Bendigo, and Beechworth in Victoria are all on the list, as well as several features at the Cronulla Jazz & Blues Festival in Sydney on the last weekend in May.

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Spotlight On….Kim McCartin & Her New Single “Head Above Water”

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Dive into the soul-stirring melodies of alt-country sensation Kim McCartin. With lyrics that resonate like a heartfelt conversation and a voice that weaves tales of love, loss, and redemption, Kim’s music is a journey through the heartland of emotions. Experience the raw authenticity of her storytelling, where every note is a brushstroke painting the canvas of life on her latest single “Head Above Water“, out now on all streaming services.

Drawing from roots deeply embedded in the rich Australian soil, Kim’s music effortlessly weaves together the authenticity of country storytelling with the edgy allure of alternative sounds.

On her previous album, Two White Horses, Kim gained debut critical acclaim that left critics and fans longing for more, with songs written by Kim and co-written by the album’s producer, Kevin Bennett. The maturity of her writing at the time won her many fans and friends in the broader Australian music family. Further writing as part of a prestigious song club, Kim was able to collaborate with some of her great friends and notable names in the music industry.

Penning lyrics like pages from a well-worn novel, Kim has just finished recording at her studio on the Sunshine Coast, with a view to releasing a new album in 2024.

With her new single Head Above Water, Kim invites listeners into a world where raw emotions and untamed melodies collide, resonating with a soul-stirring honesty that is both refreshing and unforgettable.

Embrace the rich tapestry of alt-country of a genuine troubadour, whose music speaks directly to the core of the human experience. Don’t pass up the chance to lose yourself in Kim McCartin’s captivating sounds.

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Lucky – Megan Moroney

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Megan Moroney, a rising artist in Nashville, released her debut album, Lucky, in 2023. Kristian Bush of Sugarland fame produced the album, which features Megan’s signature voice and lyrics that are casual and honest. Ever since the video and song “Tennessee Orange” were released, Megan Moroney has been the centre of attention. Her impressive resume includes a number of accolades, including 2023 Female Breakout Video of the Year, “2023 Artist to Watch,” and recognition as one of CMT’s Next Women of Country for 2023, who described her as “a musical risktaker with powerhouse pipes.”

Obviously, the obvious family ties are evident upon listening to this album, but then again, that’s just how great music is created, isn’t it? Expressing your individuality through incorporating your upbringing’s influences into your work. After meeting fellow Georgia musician Kristian Bush of Sugarland in 2020, Moroney—a native of Savannah, Georgia—moved to Nashville. Following the release of her EP “Pistol Made of Roses” and allegations of an on-again, off-again relationship with Morgan Wallen, she finally found the spark that ignited her career with the success of “Tennessee Orange” last year.

There are thirteen songs here, and the lyrics are some of the sharpest you’ve heard recently. Wonderful melodies and strong messages of self-esteem accompany the classic Country melancholy and the cunning use of double meanings and word play. The first song, “I’m Not Pretty,” has all the elements I mentioned earlier. The music is soft and reminiscent of “Same Trailer,” but the lyrics are anything but. In her song “Queen of the Mean Girls,” Moroney tells a story of envy over her ex-girlfriend’s new partner, who she describes as “trolling” and “tearing her down” on Instagram. You realise Moroney isn’t scared or hurt by the song’s satisfying climax, and you can’t wait to hear what else she has to say.

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