When Felicity Urquhart returned to her rural roots on her fourth album 'New Shadow' she picked up a following in the cities.

Felicity attained an organic sound when she was produced by guitarist Stuart French and pedal steel ace Michel Rose and cut the album with their band - Sydney's revered Feral Swing Katz. This was not a rock or blues singer, dipping the toe into the genre for a quick hit and run, and then back to the mainstream to sneer at the genre.

Felicity, born in Tamworth, developed her love of western swing from her grandfather - a troubadour who sang from town to town in rural NSW. It was an era which spawned her album tracks such as 'You Can't Break My Heart', penned by Spade Cooley and Eugene Rogers. Cooley, a Calfornia band leader who died at intermission of a concert while out of jail on parole for murdering his wife, was a regular character in James Elroy novels set in L A in the immediate post war era.

Felicity wrote two of 12 tunes - a lullaby with Sam Hawksley and another with Dean Miller (son of late Roger and now courting Melbourne country starlet Rene Stewart.) Rene once adorned the arm of Brownlow medallist Shane Woewodin and proved her prowess with an acapella version of the Melbourne theme song on the Nine Network AFL Footy Show. But that's another story - one of the most spontaneous sprints for country music on TV networks not renowned for country exposure.

Felicity, 25 and former partner of South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby star Tim Brasher, is now soaking up the charms of Kasey Chambers's guitarist Glen Hannah. Which she admits is one reason she was so relaxed when she cut this sweet slice of swing which has been embraced by influential community stations such as 3RRR and may win her overseas exposure.

And, of course, the experience of writing with Miller after his second Australian trip last summer. "When Dean rang up and said 'I've got a couple of days to spare before I go back to Nashville - would you like to get together and write I nearly did a back flip," Felicity told Nu Country. "Dean had hits over in the States with George Jones, Trace Adkins, Terri Clark and Chris Knight.

He's a phenomenal writer so when he arrived at my door I was very nervous. I explained I wanted to write about taking opportunities and not waiting for things to happen.

The song was born in matter of minutes, we worked on it for less than a day and polished it off by e-mail. I wanted to finish the album with something positive."
But it was John Leventhal & Jim Lauderdale, touring here in January with Kim Richey, Canadians Fred Eaglesmith and Jason McCoy and Audrey, who provided new single 'Planet Of Love.' "I first heard it on a demo and I thought 'wow this is something Patsy Cline would record if she were around today," says Felicity, "this is me. It's a really quirky song about the planet of love and I can dream about that. The album's really sprinkled with romance and I couldn't go past this."

Felicity reached back for Merle Haggard's 'Every Fool Has A Rainbow', the Patsy Cline recorded Bobby Life tune 'Too Many Secrets' and Johnny Mercer for 'I Remember You', hit for Frank Ifield.

She persuaded veteran Gene Pistilli to write her new songs - 'New Shadow and Less Of Me More Often'. And it was Shelby Lynne's cut of 'Swingtown', co-written with Jamie O'Hara and Brent Maher, that convinced Felicity to record it. The ode to Bob Wills and other swing heroes was an album title track by Shelby (elder sister of Allison Moorer,) when she was a country artist. "The reaction we have been getting is wow this is so refreshing and different and they feel that could fit the city café scene," says Felicity, "it's the type of album you can put on in a swank café and city people would get to hear it. I wish more city people would open their hearts to country music because they're missing out."

Although Felicity is a huge fan and regular guest at Kasey concerts she blazes a vastly different trail. "Our audiences are different," says Felicity, "she's more country with a folk edge. It's wonderful to see an Aussie kicking doors open like her and jamming them there." So would Felicity like to take her music back to its source in the south and mid west? "That's a dream, I would love to do a showcase over there with Feral Swing Katz," says Felicity, "I think we could double head with Asleep At The Wheel quite easily. I would love to meet Ray Benson."

Felicity and the Feral Swing Cats will be appearing at the Bunyip Country Music Festival on Sunday February 24, 2002.


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