|Personnel: Audrey Auld Mezera (vocals, acoustic guitar); Audrey Auld Mezera; Karl Broadie (vocals); James Gillard (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, baritone guitar); R. McCormack (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, nylon-string guitar, banjo, mandocello, mandola); Nina Gerber (acoustic guitar); Mick Albeck (fiddle); Tim Wedde (accordion, piano, organ); Doug Bligh, Doug Bligh (drums); Raechel Lee (background vocals); Bill Chambers (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, lap steel guitar, mandolin, background vocals).
|Australian expatriate singer/songwriter Audrey Auld Mezera was Australian singer/songwriter Audrey Auld until three years ago, when she moved to the U.S. and got married. Following two live albums, Lost Men and Angry Girls is her first studio album since her relocation. As she makes clear on the disc's first song, "Bolinas," named after her new place of residence in northern California, however, she still considers herself a foreigner, and so entitled to lecture Americans about their violent tendencies: "I know you're all fighting for peace," she scolds, "There'd be peace if you just stopped fighting." In a larger sense, Mezera has always been something of an outsider, however, and she has reveled in that role. She is a fan of American country music, maintaining a close alliance with fellow Australian Bill Chambers, the father of Kasey Chambers, and the album is full of tributes to country music, including "Looking for Luckenbach" (which ends with Bill Chambers singing part of Waylon Jennings' hit "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love),") and "Clinch Mountain Prayer," which evokes the Carter Family. Yet Mezera is concerned with a different set of troubles from those encountered by rural American southerners, as she notes in "Down in a Hole," in which she conjures a mining town and contrasts it with her own emotional landscape: "I never cried while my lungs turned black/But I cry for the black of my soul." For her, the troubles that inspired traditional American country music are all stories from the past, but she has her own troubles, even if they are of a spiritual rather than a physical nature. She remains homesick for Australia, as she reveals in "Half a World Away," and she is searching for herself, as she describes semi-comically in "Self-Help Helped Me." She (or the characters who narrate her songs) is also haunted by death and loss in such songs as "Last Seen in Gainesville," "We Cry," and "Not I," only finding solace in such genre exercises as "Dublin Boy" and "Lullaby for Baby Taylor." Maybe it's just as well that an Australian performer obsessed with American country music has now moved to America itself, where she won't have to experience it at such a remove. But the country music she embraces is not the music being made in Nashville, and unlike Keith Urban, she is likely to remain, musically and philosophically, an artist living in a country of her own imagining. ~ William Ruhlmann