2009 CD Review


"Last night was so unlike me/ well I've never done that before/ getting' high on Strait & Jackson/ hell a girl couldn't want for more." - Strait & Jackson - Kimber Sparks-Bill Chambers.

Expatriate American singer-songwriter Kimber Sparks has impeccable taste.

She eulogised country superstars George Strait and Alan Jackson on her new CD that also includes a duet with stone country survivor Vern Gosdin.

And, as a bonus, her pure country voice is mixed up front and centre by producer and duet partner Bill Chambers.

Yes, Bill also plays dobro, mandolin, weisenborn slide, bass, electric and acoustic guitar on this organic gem.

The McCormack Brothers head the hillbilly central A team session serfs with Michel Rose on pedal steel, fiddler Mick Albeck and Greencards ace Kym Warner adding mandolin and harmonies.

Let's get the vocal compass swinging - Sparks has an ache that's etched in the timbre chopped by Elizabeth Cook and Ashton Shepherd and the embryonic era of Catherine Britt and her mentor Kasey.

Now, all of that would be a waste if the songs didn't measure up.

They do.

Sparks nails it from the title track entrée where the singer's character carries out her threat to leave a wayward hell-raiser.

"She's on the other side of the bridge that's already burned/ but he's standing on a bridge that won't burn/ it's her turn."

The message is a complete contrast to her revamp of the Vern Gosdin-Max D Barnes hit Chiselled In Stone.

Gosdin must have approved her lyrical facelift.

The Voice joins her as the duet partner on the title track of his 1987 album that I picked up for 99c on the floor of a Fort Lauderdale store when I attended former Geelong captain Michael Turner's last of his 245 games for Geelong (against Collingwood) in North Miami in 1988.


"Tonight I need someone to pull me through/ sorry Jack but this time you just won't do/ cause this hurt is like a feeling I never knew/ Dear God I've got to hand this one to you." - Lessons I Wish I'd Never Learned - Sparks-Chambers

Sparks dips deep into the traditional country well when a ruptured romance forces her to choose between the bottle and the bible in Lessons I Wish I'd Never Learned.

So it's no surprise that momma is her character's crutch when her lover decamps in Nowhere To Go.

She deftly uses the dance floor and radio as her metaphor.
"I've got the biggest dance floor/ and my favourite song playin' on the radio/ and nobody else wantin' to dance."

Sparks exploits her quota of heartache - with a little more help from her maternal mentor (spelled mama) in Damn You and the assertive clout of Moving On.


"A woman walks into the room/ wearing the same perfume/ you used to wear when you were loving me." - A Million Yesteryears - Sparks.

Chambers takes the male lead in the regret driven A Million Yesterdays where the lovers yearn for a happier ending.

But the rebounding victim - trapped twice in succession by faux saviours in What A Fool Am I - borrows a little from Hank Williams and Jim Lauderdale in her depiction of the villain as the "king of cold, cold hearts."

Don't get the impression that Sparks is mortally wounded from skating down the jagged edge of glacial flood of broken hearts.

There's a genie in the bottle of optimism in the fantasy fuelled Miracle Man but tears flood the soft gospel finale Daddy's Song.

The character is definitely more Chambers than Sparks who arrived in Australia in 2001 after singing in church as a child.

"Daddy didn't ask to love this cold, cold stage/ and God knows there's so much he would change/ he'd be so proud to folks sing his song/ and today's he finally found his way back home."

Yes, the double-edged sword that mortally wounded so many troubadours on the lost highway.

On an even radio playing field Sparks would ignite mountains of airplay and hefty media exposure.

But here in the unlucky radio country the singer's life raft is ABC and community airwaves and CMC and Nu Country TV.

And, of course, the singer discovered by 2008 Australian Of The Year Lee Kernaghan as a bull riding MC and barmaid in his era as owner of famed Great Western Hotel in Rockhampton, has a soft place to fall.

Kimber graduated from Central Queensland University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business & Marketing in October 2006 and began studying for her MBA in early 2007.

Yes, the literate letters adorn her CV as well as her CD.

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