Kasey Chambers's girlish voice belies the frankness of her lyrics. But it is that dichotomy that makes the Australian country-rock songwriter's new album, "Little Bird", so charming. Even on such humble tunes as "Invisible Girl", Chambers reveals an assertiveness that augments the song's sincere tone.
"Little Bird" is Chambers's first solo release since her 2008 collaboration with her husband, Shane Nicholson, but the album is littered with guests. Nicholson and Chambers's guitarist dad, Bill Chambers, play throughout, adding their voices to the feisty "Down Here on Earth", and Patty Griffin's harmonies create a haunting sadness on "Somewhere".
Chambers continues her tradition of performing a breadth of sounds, speeds and moods. "Georgia Brown" is a sassy country tune that oozes with twang, while the ballad "Love Like a Hurricane" finds her crooning with duet partner Kevin Bennett. She channels Patsy Cline on "Bring Back My Heart" and brings an earnest intimacy to the closing solo acoustic number, "The Stupid Things I Do". The switching of tempos and tones might seem jumpy, but it keeps Chambers's distinctively plaintive voice from ever sounding repetitive.
-- Catherine P. Lewis