© Warren Fahey
These two new recordings are both from the same stable, although miles apart geographically. Lauren Lee is from Victoria and Kate from West Australia. Both are singer songwriters or, better still, songwriters who sing their own songs. This area of the folk revival seems to be an industry in itself and I often wonder how they get their songs heard. Song-writing, whilst personally satisfying when you get it right, is also very frustrating when you want feedback. I suspect most Australian songwriters write for the love of the craft rather than with stars in their eyes. This, of course, is a good thing and stars often fall. Packaging your songs up in a CD is obviously one step in getting heard. In equal place, if not first, is getting out there – wherever ‘there’ is. Ask any folk festival artistic director about singer songwriters and they will usually glaze over because they dominate the ‘in tray’ for performer applications every year. Many are ‘sound alike’, often encouraged by family and friends who, obviously, believe them to be the best of the best. Far better to hone your craft, get out there and sing your songs as widely as possible. Let the songs speak for themselves. Both these artists are good songwriters and really decent singers. Both have good solid musicians backing their music. Lauren’s tends to bring in country, bluegrass and a bit of Cajun and Kate has a more introspective folk rock feel to carry her songs. I probably enjoyed Lauren’s rawer salute-to-country sound and I was interested to learn that her grandfather was Don Williams (and her grandmother played mandolin in his Hillbilly Harmonists). Despite Kate’s lovely CD package there is nothing to tell of who she is and why she writes and sings songs (a common problem with self-produced albms) buthow could anyone not smile in hearing Kate’s whimsically titled song, ‘Dragon Orchid (How David Attenborough Saved My Love Life). If anything I found Kate’s songs a little bit too wordy – something that she can obviously work on to make her music even more effective. Australia produces some excellent singer songwriters – keep your ears open.