Anyone who spends much time with Kasey Chambers' body of work will likely get the impression she doesn't need much help from anyone to make a great album, though she certainly doesn't mind having like-minded collaborators on hand. But after making a pair of fine albums with her husband Shane Nicholson and cutting all of her records since 2000's The Captain with her brother Nash Chambers as producer, Chambers has decided to take a different path on 2015's Bittersweet; she recorded this album as a solo set, and brought in American producer Nick DiDia to oversee the sessions. Chambers has always been an artist unafraid to follow her muse, so these changes in her working method don't make Bittersweet sound like the product of an artist throwing off her shackles, but the album does manage to sound musically clear and direct and lyrically revealing while also displaying a slightly more artful side of Chambers' music.
Sorry America, we’re behind the curve on Kasey Chambers. Bittersweet, her first solo effort since 2010’s terrific (and commercially underappreciated) Little Bird, has already won 2014 Country Album of the Year in her home base of Australia where she rightfully remains an enormously popular roots star. Despite the assistance of Buddy and Julie Miller as far back as Chambers’ 1999 debut and some near misses on a steady stream of consistently excellent discs since, she has not been able to duplicate multi-platinum Australian status in the States.
Kasey Chambers is big in Australia. The Aussie lass has sold lots of discs and won a butt-load of awards in her native country during the course of her 15 year recording career. Seven of her ten albums have hit the Australian top 10, including four that reached number one. Her latest, Bittersweet was released in August down under, and so far has peaked at number two on the charts.
Although Bittersweet, the latest album from alt-country singer-songwriter Kasey Chambers, has been available in her native Australia since August of last year, U.S. audiences are just being exposed to it this week. With so many brilliant, heart-wrenching songs, the only complaint here is how long it took to finally reach our shores. Following the gentle, acoustic beauty of opener “Oh Grace,” Chambers goes into religious contemplation on “Is God Real?” Like so many of the best meditations on religion, the song takes neither an evangelical or atheist stance, simply exploring the idea of God playing a role in our lives, as the narrator vows not to ask for anything more than the will she needs to survive.