Kasey Chambers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Kasey Chambers 

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KASEY CHAMBERS

Kasey Chambers wrote some of the material on her recent debut album, The Captain (Asylum), almost a decade ago, when she was just 15, and it shows. Her mundane stories and complaints are populated by lots of unspecified yous, and she abuses the placeholder well, using it to kick off a total of 13 verses on half of the album's dozen songs. But her stunning voice more than compensates for these youthful flaws: her timing and phrasing are nearly as masterful as Iris DeMent's, her girlish quiver brings to mind Dolly Parton's (though it's an octave or two lower), and the heart-stopping catch in her throat approaches the deep sensuality of Lucinda Williams. Chambers's back story is ludicrously intriguing: her father, Bill, was an Australian fox trapper, and she grew up in the outback, where her family passed the time singing old country songs around the campfire. By the time she was nine they'd formed a group, the Dead Ringer Band, which went on to record four albums during the 90s. Eventually Kasey got her navel and lower lip pierced--a sure sign she was ready to go solo. Her older brother, Nash, produced The Captain, recorded mostly on a remote island near New Zealand, and her dad played guitar on it; additional sessions in Nashville with Buddy and Julie Miller bolstered the twang quotient substantially. And despite its lyrical weaknesses, it has moments where the preciousness is supplanted by true grit: the rowdy "We're All Gonna Die Someday" manages to inoffensively interpolate a bit of "Ballad of Jed Clampett," and Chambers injects a real fuck-all spirit into lines like "Janie got stoned 'cause she couldn't get boned." Jeb Loy Nichols (see Spot Check) opens. Friday, March 30, 6:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

PETER MARGASAK

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