Music » CD Reviews

Kasey Chambers

Barricades and Brickwalls (Warner Bros.)


Critics are getting passionate about Kasey Chambers. On the one side is the "Next Lucinda Williams" school of thought. On the other is the inevitable backlash. "Chambers can't hold a candle to Lucinda," skeptics bray. Yeah, and John Prine isn't as good as Bob Dylan. So what? Can't we simply appreciate both stellar artists for who they are?

Granted, Chambers, the current "It Girl" of the Americana music scene, was certainly influenced by Williams -- Gram Parsons, Steve Earle, Joni Mitchell, and a few others are obvious points of reference as well. And there can be no doubt that Chambers hasn't quite equaled Williams's world-weary insightfulness. But heck, she's only 25. Lucinda, at 49, is old enough to be Kasey's mom. And while Williams, on her last album, ditched country-rock jangle and bluesy grit in favor of slow- and midtempo ballads delivered in a lounge singer's voice, Chambers gives us tunes that sound like the songs Williams was laying down in the '90s.

Chambers's 1999 debut, The Captain, was an emotional sock in the jaw and a textbook example of what Americana ought to be. Her follow-up, Barricades and Brickwalls, is a bit more diverse musically while being just as articulate lyrically. She rocks on the title track, "Runaway Train," and "Crossfire." She's pure country on "On a Bad Day" and a cover of Parsons's "Still Feeling Blue." Bob Wills would nod in approval at the western swing of "A Little Bit Lonesome," and she gets downright acoustic on "The Nullarbor Song" and "Falling Into You." Comparisons to Williams are valid, but let's not get in a spitting contest over who's better than whom. Chambers proves on her second CD that she's a remarkable songwriting talent who should make a lot of noise for a lot of years.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.