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*** 1/2 KASEY CHAMBERS "The Captain" Asylum

October 08, 2000|RANDY LEWIS

The songs on this album would be remarkable from an artist of any age, but the preternatural wisdom and experience displayed by this Australian country-folk singer-songwriter are positively unnerving for one who is just 24, and who wrote these songs between the ages of 15 and 22.

The opening track, "Cry Like a Baby," immediately earns her a place on singer-songwriter Olympus with the likes of John Prine and Iris DeMent. Indeed, hers is the most impressive debut in the folk-country field since DeMent's in 1992. Chambers' folksy vocals even sound a bit like DeMent's, with echoes of Lucinda Williams and Victoria Williams as well--disarmingly youthful yet achingly worldly-wise.

She closes the album with "We're All Gonna Die Someday," in which she reveals a sharp sense of humor as well as a marrow-deep awareness of the transformative power of gospel music.

Her writing is impressively to the point, and if the focus in a couple of songs gets a bit fuzzy, it seems less a creative deficit than an opportunity for her to grow next time out.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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