3 ½ stars
Last year's Ain't No Little Girl was a bluesy, strident statement that Kasey Chambers still had plenty to say. Enough for this 11th album to be that most old-school of beasts - a double album. Impressively, Chambers shoehorns her entire history, from conception to turning 40, plus shout outs to Kanye West, James Gandolfini and Twisted Sister, into less than five minutes on the hilarious and raw Talkin' Baby Blues. "I got three kids to two different fathers, " she sings. "One's better looking, the other one's smarter, sometimes it's hard to handle them both but my next boyfriend was barely old enough to vote … sweet as a cookie, Harry Hookey."
Hookey co-writes eight tracks here (notably the haunting Jonestown), one of many guests over 80 minutes. Paul Kelly (who produces disc one) pushes Chambers to some glorious places. He also duets on the swamp stomp Hey. That's Ed Sheeran adding his trademark harmonies to the sweet Satellite, while Ed's mate Foy Vance is promoted to actual duet on Romeo & Juliet.
The Keith Urban duet If We Had a Child is straight-up country by two acts who like to push country's boundaries. Nothing keeps romantic turmoil company like sombre strings - see Summer Pillow. Behind the Eyes of Henri Young comes with a bodycount, If I Died sports a Nick Cave-gone-Nashville swagger. Chambers' surgically improved voice soars on the stunning You Ain't Worth Suffering For - one of the best things she's ever recorded. And for those who still have Chambers freeze-framed some time in 2002, she sings at one point: "Am I not pretty enough? Who gives a f---."
Sounds like: an epic tale.
In a word: mature.
Dragonfly is out today.
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