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Barb Waters - Rosa Duet

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 11 / 4 / 2004



Barb Waters - Rosa Duet
Label: Laughing Outlaw
Format: CD

intro

Outstanding collection of duets on the ever reliable Laughing Outlaw label which finds Australian-based singer-songwriter Barb Waters working with some of the cream of Melbourne's musical talent


Not content with already releasing the best album of the year so far with Jenny Queen’s ‘Girls Who Cry Need Cake’, Laughing Outlaw Records now unleash the second album by another outstanding female singer/songwriter, Barb Waters. This collection of duets has more of a country flavour than the Jenny Queen album but it is still on a par with it ; it’s that good. It’s one of those albums which you know from the very first note on the very first track that it is going to be great. It’s one of those albums which make you skip to the intro of each following song just to see if they can all be as good as that first track; it’s one of those albums that doesn’t let you down. Sadly, most of the artists Waters has chosen to duet with will be unfamiliar to those of us who live outside of Australia, but Waters has picked the cream of Melbourne’s musical talent to make this an outstanding album. On the plus side, of course, the album is so strong that it makes one want to dig deeper and check out the previous work from Waters co-workers. A couple of names that might be familiar are those of Lisa Miller who made some waves in the U.K. with her ‘Quiet Girl With A Credit Card’ album some years back. Kim Salmon from the Scientists (one of Kurt Cobain’s influences) is another name which rings a bell through his involvement with the Hoodoo Gurus; he co produced their comeback album ‘Mach Schau’. Craig Pilkington who produced the album is probably best known on these shores for his work with the Lucksmiths. It’s rare for an artist to be able to come up with songs as good as these with so many different co writers. There are 10 songs on this album. They range from the pure country of the opening song, ‘Thinking A Lot About You’ with Cyndi Boste (Kasey Chambers is a fan) to the greatest song Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra never recorded (and maybe they should, ‘Make It Count’ with the above mentioned Kim Salmon, to more electric country blues workouts like ‘Make Some Decision’ with Ashley Davies. Albums of duets are making something of a comeback, and because they have been a bit thin on the ground over the last few years praise is now being heaped upon any duet partnership from the 60's and 70's. George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra and, of course, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris certainly deserved this acclaim, although it might have been lacking at the time, but Sonny and Cher and others are now being grouped into this ‘classic duets’ club and one should be careful before making such statements. A couple of good songs on an album does not qualify it for classic status even with the passing of time and a lack of albums in that genre. But Barb Waters should have no worries with this collection. In years to come this album will rightly be considered a classic. There are no highlights on the album; each song is so strong it’s impossible to pick just one as a standout. I’m biased; I fell in love with the music of Lisa Miller years ago, so obviously Barb’s duet with Lisa is a personal favourite. Although in fact it's not strictly a duet as Rebecca Barnard also adds vocals on the song. It’s a heartbreaking ballad with a pretty melody and accordion by Dave Evans who adds to the gently strummed acoustic guitar of Sam Lemann (who appears on a few tracks on the album) and it’s a song to return to again and again. It’s perfect, all three girls put in outstanding vocal performances, the music is as effecting as the vocals. When the last verse comes in with “it’s the middle of the night almost quarter to four, I ain’t heard that key in the door” just as the music all but fades away and the girls harmonise “I need somebody to wipe away my tears” not only is it heart-stopping it also brings back memories of Dolly, Linda and Emmylou on the ‘Trio’ albums. ‘Vacancy Signs’, the duet with Dan Warner ( who supported Steve Earle on his recent Australian tour as part of the duo Dan and Kev) is, with it’s lap steel by Mia Dyson, one of the songs firmly routed in the country sound and the vocals are so good it’s like they belong together, unlike the lovers in the song. The song boasts clever lyrics. “We’ve heard this record ‘bout 7 or 8 times and the conversation’s fading with the fuel gauge lights” is just one example of the standard of the lyrics on the album. Looking back is the theme of ‘Jessie (Me And You)’, the duet with Anna Burley of the Killjoys and it has more of a pop/ country feel than the other songs. ‘Further Down The Line is again not strictly a duet as GIT, Waters' co-artists on this song, are three girls (Sarah Carroll, Susannah Espie and Trish Anderson). It has, with its banjo, fiddle and upright bass, a Carter Family sound and that ‘Trio’ influence shining through again. This is an outstanding collection of songs, with possibly the strongest vocals we are going to hear all year. The guys at Laughing Outlaw must be grinning from ear to ear. They have released two of the best albums so far this year.



Track Listing:-
1 Thinking a Lot About You
2 Vacancy Signs
3 Make It Count
4 Wipe Away My Tears
5 When Will You Come My Way
6 I Won't See You Again (Hours & Distance)
7 Jessie (Me and You)
8 Split You Open
9 Further Down the Line
10 Make Some Decision


Label Links:-
http://www.laughingoutlaw.com.au/
https://www.facebook.com/laughingoutlawrecordsandmanagement
https://laughingoutlaw.bandcamp.com/



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