Kasey Chambers

Wayward Angel

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When Kasey Chambers sings, she manages the not-unremarkable accomplishment of splitting the difference between Emmylou Harris's crystalline purity and Lucinda Williams's rough-hewn emotional honesty, and the most startling thing is you sense she sounded like this before she ever heard of either artist. Chambers' songwriting is no less remarkable, and connects in much the same way, chronicling matters of the heart and soul in a manner that achieves a genuine and unaffected beauty with just a dash of the truthful messiness that comes with being human. Chambers's third solo album, Wayward Angel, is perhaps a bit less striking than her first two sets, The Captain and Barricades & Brickwalls, if only because she staked out her style on those sessions, and here she's harvesting from the ground she broke earlier on. But this also sounds like her most accomplished effort to date. Whether she sings from the perspective of a precocious child ("Pony"), a woman with a serious case of lust ("Guilty as Sin"), or an elderly man ("Paper Aeroplane"), Chambers never fails to hit the right note as a lyricist, or make a false step as a vocalist, and Wayward Angel is informed by a confidence that never sinks into arrogance. Chambers is also lucky to have on hand as producer her brother Nash Chambers, who has paired Kasey with a team of gifted pickers who add color to the songs without cluttering the landscape, and captured the results in an admirably straightforward manner. Wayward Angel is the work of a strikingly talented singer and songwriter, and it's simply a pleasure to hear Kasey Chambers work -- anyone who doubts that this woman is a major artist needs to hear this album as soon as possible.

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