One thing Australia has in common with the American South is that both became home to many of the descendents of the Scottish highlanders who lost their battle against the British when Bonnie Prince Charlie fumbled the Battle of Culloden in 1745. So if Kasey Chambers, born and raised in Southern Australia, sings Appalachian folk melodies as naturally as anyone following a similar musical path in the United States, you can probably chalk that up to a shared heritage and musical tradition. As for her skills as a vocalist and songwriter, that's a matter of talent, pure and simple, and Chambers and her husband, singer and songwriter Shane Nicholson, have teamed up for their second album of acoustic songs following 2008's superb Rattlin' Bones, which shows they're delivering some of the purest and most satisfying country sounds of anyone working in the 21st century.
The reality that Australian singer/songwriter Kasey Chambers creates great American music is now longer news. She’s been doing it since the late 1990s. Nor is the fact that she and her Aussie husband Shane Nicholson produce fantastic Appalachian-style tunes. The duo’s 2008 release, Rattlin’ Bones, clearly proved their mettle.
Because the country and Americana scenes have recently been inundated with male-female duos, the second album from Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson loses some of its predecessor’s relative novelty. But Wreck & Ruin otherwise picks up right where 2008’s Rattlin’ Bones left off, with the married couple layering intricate vocal harmonies over some casual, mostly acoustic country-rock. The gorgeous, nearly a cappella “‘Til Death Do Us Part” immediately lays bare the album’s central theme of looking at love as a source of shelter from hard times.
The opening a cappela “’Til Death Do Us Part” is a fitting capsule for this married couple’s second acoustic association. The 15 tracks are written to be sung as duets or with male/female alternating vocals making this a true collaboration. Additionally the songs often deal with the struggles of marriage bringing even more emotion to two voices that are already brimming with it.