WHO – emerging talent

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The Eagle & The Wolf

Two of the country’s finest songwriters, Sarah Humphreys and Kris Morris met and decided to make a life and music together. There’s nothing fancy or fake here, just open hearts, superior songs and the truth. And they can both play.

In 2014 both Humphreys and Morris released solo records produced by Kasey Chambers and recorded at Foggy Mountain Studios with some of the country’s best players. Morris’s record Ruins opened his music up to audiences around the country and flagged him as a stand out songwriter and guitar player. Humphreys New Moon received 4 stars in Rolling Stone who labelled it “as natural and honest as they come” and confirmed her reputation a songwriter’s songwriter. New Moon also signalled a more rootsy direction. Soon after the release of both albums the two started writing together and have since forged a new sound which combines Humphrey’s majestic voice with Morris’s grit and swagger.”

In a short time the duo have already toured with Kasey Chambers, been noted as ones to watch in music press, and made waves at Tamworth with guest spots with Bill Chambers, Kasey Chambers, Catherine Britt and Kevin Bennett & The Flood. Their performance at Late Night Alt at The Tudor is already penned into Tamworth folklore.

“Separately Sarah and Kris are two of my favourite singer/songwriters ever, but the first time I heard their voices together I was taken to a whole other place! The blend was like nothing I had ever heard before and broke my heart in the most beautiful way.” – Kasey Chambers

Their self-titled album, Eagle & The Wolf  is a collection of ten songs,  poignant reminders of the pain the two have encountered in their separate travels and the love found in each other. Co-produced by Syd Green (Matt Tonks, Dirty Lucy, Iota), with Sarah and Kris in an old farm house on the South Coast of NSW,  you can hear every breath, the crackle of the fire, birds calling in the distance. The record, Eagle & The Wolf, is out now.

Whiskeydrop Band

The north coast of NSW has its very own country rock tradition, with antecedents in Nimbin’s hell-raisers The Re-Mains and Jimmy Willing’s Real Gone Hick-Ups for starters. Yamba’s The Whiskey Drop continue that vintage strain with an authentic country flair.

From Nambucca To Eumamurrin they’ve been plying the country rock trade for a few years now, honing a melodic sensibility inherited from the likes of Gram Parsons and The Byrds, with a shot or two of the raw soul of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.

Dave Irving’s songs tell simple tales that resonate with audiences raised on the love of classic country melodies, the ebb and flow of life in clean air. Living a simple coastal life, he knows the rhythms of the natural world.

The players possess poise, pedigree and style – with double bassist Al Brooker hailing from Paul Kelly’s band the Dots. Bec Flatt a roisterous drummer who’s capable of finesse and clarity and young guitar slinger Mitch Mitchell’s shows a mature tone and agile attack. Their self-titled EP is a smooth tipple. It is the polished document of a band that’s been evolving steadily into a formidable country outfit. Recorded with Paul Agar at Heaven Studios who also shares writing and production credits.

The songs glory in classical country instrumentation, mandolin, fiddle, honky tonk piano and guitars circling and dancing in the mix, deftly and decorously dicing up the songs. They hit all of country music’s emotional targets, murder ballads and yearning dirges gambling with honky tonk sprees and winning every throw. Former-Re-mains banjo player Shaun Butcher unleashes some country rock and roll finesse while Paul Agar’s mastery of melody expresses itself through his arsenal of fine instruments.

The band has been hitting grace notes all the way up into Queensland, amassing a formidable reputation as a touring outfit. They’ve already notched up big stage shows at Tamworth and Broadbeach Country Music Festivals and look set to be a major fixture in the Australian country scene.

William Crighton

A son of the Riverina, William Crighton’s work is relentless in its navigation of life.
His songs are defiant. They deal in revenge, faith, grievances, drug addiction, and suicide, but amidst the turmoil there is a strong force of hope and a belief in love and the skin of a lover.
His music is bold, visceral, and uncompromising.
William Crighton is a voice crying out from the wilderness of southwestern NSW. Having recently returned home to Australia after a few years living in both Nashville and Los Angeles, writing, recording, and performing, he now calls the Hunter Valley home. Standing well over 6-foot tall with limbs dangling at the ready, it’s safe to say this guy is packing some mongoloid strength. As an artist, it’s not his pleasant nature that jags your attention – it’s when he picks up that guitar and starts laying down one of his well-constructed tunes that you really start to feel his power. William Crighton’s songs are raw. Backed by his incredible 7-piece band, he’s delivering a fresh take on what is best described as “psychedelic country rock”, in an authentically modern Australiana-kind-of-way, surveying the sparseness of our existence and landscape. Country Update’s Gareth Hipwell discovered at a gig in Sydney’s Inner West last year, that William Crighton is an incendiary live performer, whose formidable presence, transcendent musicianship, and distinctly Australian lyrics and sound make him a must-see artist for fans of both country music in particular, and thrilling, swelling, captivatingly Australian rock music more generally. Keep an ear to the ground for Crighton’s soon-to-be-released solo debut album.

Lost Ragas

Describing their diverse musical style as “Green Eyed Country Soul, Cosmic Australian Music, Rock, Singer-Songwriter, Roots, etc,” Melbourne’s Lost Ragas are one of the most formidable live acts on the local alt. country scene. An impossible collective of “musician’s musicians”, Lost Ragas comprises Australian indie songwriting doyen and multi-instrumentalist Matt Walker, Shane Reilly, Roger Bergodaz, and Simon Burke. With their pitch-perfect sophomore album

Trans Atlantic Highway, Lost Ragas have cemented their place in the Australian country-rock canon. Lost Ragas have been described by local alt country blog Dashvilled – somewhat breathlessly (and with good reason) – as possessing a “hard sound to pin down – broken-hearted alt country, then it flies off into this amazing dual slide guitar meets lap-steel – almost Television Tom Verlainesq meets Ry Cooder moments all centred around Matt Walker’s beautifully dark voice, understated super tight bass and that Crazy Horse-style minimal drumming.”

The Music, too, have been quick with praise for Trans Atlantic Highway, saying, “the quartet truly embodies the phrase ‘cosmic country’, serving up a sound that mixes classic country, light psychedelia, ’70s singer/songwriter and rock’n’roll. It’s like Sturgill Simpson and Beck jamming with the ghost of Harry Nilsson.”

Another of Gareth’s “acts to watch”, Lost Ragas represent the perfect intersection of flawless musicianship, stunning songwriting, and engrossing live performance.

Trans Atlantic Highway is out now on Stovepipe Records.