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Wrecking Ball – Emmylou Harris

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Emmylou Harris’s “Wrecking Ball” stands as a testament to the transformative power of music, forging a mesmerizing blend of poignant lyrics, ethereal melodies, and raw emotion. Released in 1995, this album marked a departure from Harris’s previous work, showcasing her artistic evolution and willingness to explore new horizons.

The title track, “Wrecking Ball,” serves as a fitting introduction to the album’s atmospheric soundscape. From the first notes of the haunting steel guitar, listeners are drawn into a world where Harris’s ethereal vocals float delicately over a landscape of textured instrumentation. The song’s metaphor-laden lyrics resonate with a sense of both vulnerability and resilience, painting a portrait of emotional destruction and the eventual promise of renewal.

Harris’s vocal performance throughout the album is nothing short of breathtaking. Her voice, weathered by time and experience, carries a weight that adds depth and authenticity to every word she sings. In “Wrecking Ball,” her ability to convey complex emotions is on full display, capturing the essence of heartache, longing, and the possibility of redemption.

The album’s production, masterminded by Daniel Lanois, is a stroke of genius. Lanois’s signature ambient production style infuses each track with a sense of otherworldliness, using space and sonic textures to create an intimate and immersive experience. The choice of songs, ranging from Neil Young’s “Wrecking Ball” to Jimi Hendrix’s “May This Be Love,” reflects Harris’s eclectic musical tastes while maintaining a cohesive sonic palette.

While “Wrecking Ball” is not a traditional country album, it retains the genre’s storytelling spirit. Tracks like “Deeper Well” and “Orphan Girl” reveal Harris’s ability to tap into universal themes of searching, yearning, and the human connection. The fusion of folk, rock, and ambient elements creates a musical backdrop that is both timeless and contemporary.

In “Wrecking Ball,” Emmylou Harris embarked on a creative journey that defied expectations and redefined her artistry. The album’s exploration of themes like loss, rebirth, and the complexities of human emotion resonates deeply with listeners. Through the interplay of haunting melodies and evocative lyrics, “Wrecking Ball” manages to capture a wide spectrum of feelings, leaving an indelible mark on anyone fortunate enough to experience its haunting beauty.

“Wrecking Ball” is a triumph of artistic reinvention and emotional storytelling, with an ability to transport listeners to a realm of introspection and introspective reflection is a testament to the enduring power of music to touch the soul. Through its innovative production, soul-stirring vocals, and captivating song selection, “Wrecking Ball” remains an essential entry in the pantheon of musical masterpieces.

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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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