2019 CD REVIEW
BACKROAD NATION (ABC-UNIVERSAL)
LEE HEADS OUTBACK IN OUR BACKYARD
“It's road train dust on a Bulloo track/ it's cane fields getting lit/ it's combine lights before the dawn/ it's an Uluru sunset/ it's 40,000 years of dreaming/ the heartland keeps on beating.” - Backroad Nation - Lee Kernaghan-Col Buchanan-Garth Porter-Lindsay Rimes- Phil Barton
Aussie country music king Lee Kernaghan doesn't beat around the bush when he writes songs to extend his 30 year plus career.
The 37-time Golden Guitarist never has to turn left on Hoddle Street or take punts on its extended route through Richmond and South Yarra.
Kernaghan, now 55, was born in the Corryong high country of Victoria and raised by his trucking troubadour dad Ray and mum across the border in Albury.
He has performed throughout the outback and cities and towns on all coasts in a career that earned him an OAM in 2004 and Australian of the Year in 2008.
So it's no surprise that he headed into the red dirt country to film videos for songs from his 15 th album that is a riveting reflection of his travels that also earned him four ARIA and three APRA Awards while raising funds for long suffering farmers beset by drought, flood and famine.
Lee is a true-blue songwriter but unlike some peers doesn't strangled his vowels while singing about horses, dingoes, dogs, human beings and cows.
Sure, the father of two boys and spouse of chanteuse Robby, sings with a distinct Australian accent.
His vocals that have stood the test of time with a little help from songwriting and musician friends diverse as Garth Porter, Col Buchanan, Van Diemen's land lad Nick Wolfe, Adam Brand, Steve Forde, Lindsay Rimes and a bunch of expat Australians living in Nashville.
And, of course, there's his singer-songwriter siblings Tania and Fiona.
LIGHTNING – NOT QUITE WHITE LIKE THE POSSUM
“A million miles of Pilbara surrounding you and me/ short horns under white gums pushing 46 degrees/ I came up from the south coast, just a suitcase in my hand/ now I'm out here fixing windmills in the Nyiyaparli land.” - Watching Lightning - Lee Kernaghan-Colin Buchanan-Garth Porter.
“I'm so excited to be bringing out this new music. A lot of miles and a lot of living has gone into every song. I've travelled from Alice Springs to the Deni Ute Muster, from the mighty Pilbara to backroads Queensland and everywhere in between turning those experiences into songs.”
"It's awesome getting to play live across Australia and I'll be forever grateful to every person who comes out each night to see the show. They're the reason I sing my songs, that's where the music comes from.”
The video for Backroad Nation was filmed at Trilby Sheep Station near Louth on the banks of the Darling River in outback western NSW and features young country artist, Ell Regan.
“It was an epic location, bone-dry though, because they hadn't seen any decent rain since 2016. It breaks your heart to see how desperate things can get on the land but the good news is that a couple of days after we finished the shoot, it bucketed down, the dams filled up and the river began to flow”.
Ell moved from Bargo sheep country south of Sydney in 2018 to the Northern Territory to join an outback show before becoming the seven night a week live artist at the historic Mataranka Homestead.
She has since released her single Bulldust that she wrote travelling from home to an outback donga and tourism motorhome.
Ell's song is about calling out bull-dust to your boss and taking off down south to get covered in bull-dust.
WHEELS ON OPEN ROAD
“Got a paycheck in pocket/ got freedom in the tank/ got country on the radio/ couple bare feet on the dash/ you know where we're going/ somewhere off the map/ there's a black top we can burn up/ and we ain't looking back.” - Wheels - Lee Kernaghan-Lindsay Rimes-Phil Barton.
Lee also credits Robby as inspiration for sibling song Take It Down A Backroad.
And he resurrects his penchant for Robby and fellow belles from the bush in Let There Be Cowgirls.
But a male compadre sourced the album's second song Waiting On A Mate and the nationwide drought inspired Round Here .
Although the boy from the bush has toured overseas he retains his home country as his base.
So the fitting finale to this album is prophetic parable Till It Ends with the Wolfe Brothers who still call their Deep south Tasmanian family berry farm at Neika - population 217 - their spiritual home.
The trio filmed their video for Ain't Seen It Yet on the property that has been in the family for more than a century.
The Wolfe Brothers connection to their piece of paradise began when Nick and Tom's great-great grandfather bought a nearby farm in 1870.
“It's literally just over the valley from where I am now,” Tom told Nu Country in June 2018.
“He had an apple orchard and he lived there for 20 years. He loved it so much. There's so much history here.”
The Wolfe Brothers became first group to win four Golden Guitars in one night including album of the year for their fourth CD Country Heart at the 2019 Australian country music awards in Tamworth
TOURING AND TRUCKING
“Been a long road down a dirt track/ a lost highway to a neon city/ done a redeye flight to LAX/ well I've walked the streets of London town/ seen the Paris lights when the sun goes down/ and every step just led me closer to where I wanna be.” - Where I Wanna Be - Lee Kernaghan-Colin Buchanan-Garth Porter-Nic Wolfe- Robby X-Lindsay Rimes
Kernaghan also pays tribute to the kings of the road who deliver fodder and food in droughts in The Trucks Came Through.
And he personalises Keep On Trucking where his character has a gun safe by the back door and a pig dog called Chainsaw.
They could be the perfect protection from politicians like Clive Palmer and other multi-media invaders and uninvited intruders.
Live To Ride - a tribute to servicemen and women who risked their lives in wars diverse as Vietnam , Iraq and Afghanistan - also delves into the personal struggles that resulted in freedom enjoyed back on home soil.
It has its roots in his Spirit Of The Anzacs album that earned him one of his four ARIA Awards and was #1 all genre album and highest selling Australian album of 2015.
Lee's 48 concert Backroad Nation Tour started on May 11 with The Wolfe Brothers and CMC Female Artist of the Year Christie Lamb.
“We've been working on creating a concert event that I hope people are going to really love being a part of,” Lee explained.
“A lot of new design elements have been added with the staging, lighting and screens plus the hottest band in the land, The Wolfe Brothers will be joining me and opening up the shows with a bunch of their own hits.”
Lee has sold over two million albums in Australia and scored 38 number 1 hits on the Australian Country Charts.
His chart hits include Boys From The Bush, Hat Town, Flying With The King, Australian Boy, Texas QLD 4385, Goondiwindi Moon, High Country, The Outback Club, Hat Town, Planet Country, She's My Ute, Flying With The King and Australian Boy .
He was named hitmaker of the decade twice for scoring more chart hits in Australia than any other country music artist (2001/2011) and awarded America's Country Music Association Award for Global Artist Of The Year.
In 2017 he celebrated the Silver Anniversary of ARIA award winning debut album Outback Club and was inducted into CMC Hall Of Fame and Australian Country Music Roll Of Renown.
In 2018 Lee's 25th Anniversary Album was awarded CMC/ARIA highest selling album of the year.
Iconic hat maker Akubra manufacture the Lee Kernaghan signature Outback Club hat in recognition of his deep connection to the bush.
Lee also hosts nationally syndicated Sabbath country music radio show - The Range - on the 3MMM-FM Network.
Lee Kernaghan - Backroad Nation Writing Credits.
1. Backroad Nation - Lee Kernaghan, Lindsay Rimes, Phil Barton, Garth Porter, Colin Buchanan
2. Waiting On A Mate - Lee Kernaghan, Garth Porter, Colin Buchanan
3. Take It Down A Backroad - Lee Kernaghan, Lindsay Rimes, Phil Barton
4. Watching Lightning - Lee Kernaghan, Garth Porter, Colin Buchanan
5. Round Here - Lee Kernaghan, Phil Barton, Bruce Wallace
6. Where I Wanna Be - (With Robby X) Lee Kernaghan, Garth Porter, Colin Buchanan, Nick Wolfe, Robby X, Lindsay Rimes
7. Live To Ride - Lee Kernaghan, Garth Porter, Colin Buchanan
8. Wheels - Lee Kernaghan, Lindsay Rimes, Phil Barton
9. The Trucks Came Through - Lee Kernaghan, Garth Porter, Colin Buchanan
10. Let There Be Cowgirls - Lee Kernaghan, Nick Wolfe, Phil Barton
11. Keep On Truckin' - Lee Kernaghan, Garth Porter, Colin Buchanan
12. Till It Ends (With the Wolfe Brothers) - Lee Kernaghan, Phil Barton, Nick Wolfe