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Kasey Chambers: Wayward Angel

Kasey Chambers: Wayward Angel

Label:Warner Bros.
Release Date:2004
Genre:Singer/Songwriter (Rock/Pop)

By Marc Hirsh | Posted 12/22/2004

Wayward Angel is Kasey Chambers’ third album, but she has yet to display a personality strong enough to carry a disc from start to finish. She gave us a doozy on her 2002 sophomore effort Barricades & Brickwalls—a flinty heartbreaker who shouldn’t be trifled with—but she couldn’t commit to it, falling back repeatedly on a less interesting take on adult contemporary roots-pop.

Angel dismayingly favors that fallback. Songs such as “Hollywood” and the car-commercial-peppy “Like a River” suggest that Chambers just wants to be a sensitive singer/songwriter, but her hunting-knife voice is too hard and sharp a weapon for that. She also occasionally writes lyrics more for how they sound than for what they mean. In “Saturated,” she hits a logical pothole by claiming three different things as the only thing she’s ever wanted—but she’s not addressing her own contradictions so much as giving the impression that she isn’t paying attention to the words coming out of her mouth.

The songs on Angel that do work, like the fierce “Stronger” and the title track (one of several with echoes of Patty Loveless’ Mountain Soul), have menacing undercurrents that befit her powerful voice. Plus, she proves she can pull off a slow number like “For Sale,” boasting a gorgeous melody that unfolds at a languid pace. For the most part, though, Chambers spends Wayward Angel emphasizing her weaknesses and downplaying her strengths. There are more effective ways of sustaining a career.

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