Top 10 Albums of 2008: #6 Rattlin’ Bones by Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson

We took a day or two off for the Holiday (hope everyone had a good one by the way), and we may take another one here soon, but the Top 10 list will continue. I hope to have all ten posted by Jan. 1. Wish me luck.

We’ll start back in at #6 with Rattlin Bones’ by Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson.

Like R.E.M.’s entry at #10 (and the entry coming after this one), Kasey Chambers’ latest album came as a welcome surprise and a bit of a comeback. I’ve written here before about how Kasey served as my “gateway drug” into the world of Americana music by introducing me to several artists who now rank among my favorites. It’s no surprise then, that Kasey quickly became one of my favorite artists within the genre as well.

With that said, however, her last two offerings (Wayward Angel and Carnival) have left me feeling a little flat. Both albums certainly had their high points and songs that I would place among her best. But, in places, both albums also felt as though Kasey was actively trying to create that one crossover song that would help her reach the same level of success on mainstream American radio that she already enjoys in her native Australia. There was a sheen and polish that I wasn’t used to hearing. It didn’t have the same grit as the music I fell in love with on Barricades and Brickwalls.

For this album, Kasey returned to her roots by returning to the very roots of country music. She sat down with her husband, songwriter Shane Nicholson, and the two of them wrote 14 heartbreaking country ballads. Then, armed with mostly acoustic instruments, the duo recorded a set of duets so achingly beautiful they would make George Jones and Tammy Wynette cry.

Kasey and Shane’s voices sound great together. Like a couple who have been singing together on and off stage for years… they know the ins and outs of each other’s voices… and it shows. And, as is Chambers family tradition, the album is a true family affair. Kasey’s brother Nash serves as producer while her father Bill plays throughout. Kasey’s mother is credited with the album’s photography, and one of the Chambers’ children makes a brief cameo appearance at the end. It recalls the days before Kasey went solo and the Chambers family recorded together as The Dead Ringer Band.

This record is a perfect blending of bluegrass picking with classic country twang performed under the guiding hand of The Carter Family to create a timeless album that sounds right at home here in the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee. You’d never suspect that it came from the Nullarbor Plains of the Australian Outback.

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson: Rattlin’ Bones (Buy Album)
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson: The Devil’s Inside My Head (Buy Album)

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