Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: Wreck & Ruin

Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson
Wreck & Ruin
(Sugar Hill)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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. The Australian natives may have been born thousands of miles from the Appalachian mountains, but their high lonesome sound and vocals feel as authentic as anyone raised in the region. Backing fiddle, stripped down percussion and Chambers’ own rudimentary banjo balances the upbeat hillbilly approach of “Sick as a Dog” with the melancholy “Troubled Mind,” the latter a song that sounds to be a traditional classic, but is actually one of the 15 self-composed tunes on this short but potent and powerful set. The “deluxe edition” adds five worthy tracks on a second disc, but due to the album’s brevity, those should have been on the first platter. It’s the only negative aspect of this gem that, despite the participant’s continent of origin, is a late contender for one the finest Americana releases of 2012.

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