CD REVIEW - 2010


"So it was some years later that I heard the news/that the daughter was travelling no more/I heard she went to boarding school and when she came back home/the city and the drugs they came back too/life was good, life was sweet/the showmen taught their own, their secrets keep"- Showman's Daughter - Anne Kirkpatrick.

It's fitting that uncrowned country queen Anne Kirkpatrick includes her cover of A Bottle Of Wine And Patsy Cline on her 15th album.

The singer's pristine vocals have fermented - rather than faded - over her 50-year plus career that began as a child on the dusty outback trail.

Kirkpatrick, 58 and mother of two, first recorded at 12 and cut two new songs midst 23 career highlights on this riveting retrospective.

She added a bonus disc Out Of The Blue, her 1991 album produced by Saltbush pedal steel guitarist Mark Moffatt - one of many expats in exile in Nashville.

The vintage Tommy Rocco penned homage was originally on the 19-year old-disc - one of Moffatt's finest moments before lured to Music City by fellow expatriate Barry Coburn, publisher and manager.

Moffatt has since produced Stacey Earle - sister of seven times wed icon Steve - Keith Urban & The Ranch, Deana Carter, Rachael Warwick, Tony Joe White and Aussie young guns Jasmine Rae, Morgan Evans and Peter McWhirter.

But this time Anne celebrated country royalty nuptials by producing with Chambers clan patriarch Bill who duets with her on Rodney Crowell song Here We Are.

It's smart artistry and marketing for the singer fanning family flames of mum Joy McKean and late father Slim Dusty.

Her secondary and tertiary education at a Sale girls' boarding school and Macquarie University, replete with degree in Marine Biology, was a vast contrast to her pioneering parents.

She reaches back to the thirties for a live version of Carter Family classic Bury Me Beneath The Willow and I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes.

McKean traditional tunes Peppimenarti Cradle and Many Mothers anchor a disc for a singer who tills the sixties and changes gender, but not genre, for Johnny Horton-Tillman Franks hit Honky Tonk Man.

Her evocative version of A Bottle Of Wine And Patsy Cline - one of many songs here featuring her Macquarie University guitarist Colin Watson - honours that rich era.


"I'm just hanging around this dirty old town/I'm waiting for the bad news to come/I knew that I was dead, it came slamming though my head, like a bullet right from a smoking gun." - Last Drive - Anne Kirkpatrick-Bill Chambers.

Equally intriguing is the musical font she drank from in her post tertiary era - she worked the bluegrass country-folk campus circuit and the Civic and Lone Star Café in downtown Sydney.

That's where she entertained this writer, TV host Mike Munro and late Papal biographer and Royal Family confidant James Oram in our Sydney Daily Mirror era from 1980-5.

Fellow Sydney country artist Grand Junction, co-founded by Dave Tyne, eulogised Oram in Lone Star Stomp, on their recent album The Return.

Anne was performing on the upstairs stage at the scene of the rhyme as then Mirror police roundsman and latter day Seven Network reporter Steve Barrett set fire to septuagenarian Oram's snowy mane mid-song.

So it's no surprise that Anne cut long deceased cut-rate cremation victim Gram Parsons' Grievous Angel as her entrée song and a live cut of the Parsons-Chris Hillman classic Sin City from her seventies sojourn.

Gene Clark's Feel A Whole Lot Better and a live duet of Dylan song You Ain't Going Nowhere with Troy Cassar-Daley also fit.

Clark's song features expat Dingoes legend Kerryn Tolhurst on Hawaiian guitar and bassist Rod Coe who produced both Slim and Anne.

Although not a prolific writer her originals Travellin' Still, Always Will - replete with latter day expat Quorn born guitarist Jedd Hughes - Old Sunlander Van and Showman's Daughter - hold their own.

She doesn't name the daughter of the late bush balladeer in the latter but plants clues in the final verse.

Yes, another stained siren who took a vastly different fork in that dusty old lost highway.

Anne pays homage to Saltbush guitarist Bernie O'Brien, a regular writer, with Born For The Night Life and Caroline Warner's Eastbound Train.

Equally importantly she countrifies rocker Ross Wilson's Come Back Again - one of several songs featuring Emmylou Harris's late fiddler Wayne Goodwin - and Russell Morris's Out Of The Blue.

She follows suit with Kim Carnes All He Did Was Tell Me Lies and Safe In The Arms Of Love.

The former features pedal steel guitarist Mike Tyne - brother of Grand Junction rhythm guitarist Dave - and predecessor of Dead Livers survivor Brendan Mitchell in Australian versions of Dolly Parton musical The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.

Rollicking Kirkpatrick-Chambers tune Last Drive is a fitting finale and segue to the obligatory hidden track.

With the bonus disc it's the vital legacy of a dynamic diva who triumphs without commercial airplay.

And, unlike many of Kirkpatrick's peers, she doesn't need studio tricks or tonsure toning, to give her pasture and road cred.

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