Kasey at the bat

Aussie country singer is back with a new album

Motherhood will certainly change one's outlook on life, and it has only served to enrich the artistic spirit of Australia's alt-country darling Kasey Chambers. In preparation for her upcoming U.S. tour supporting her third CD, Wayward Angel, Chambers reflects on how life on the road merges with parenting her 2-year-old son, Talon. "His birth shifted my priorities, as he is above everything else in life now," she says. The toddler has made an impact on just about every U.S. tour in Chambers' short career, the most memorable being her scary collapse onstage in 2001 while pregnant. Following a much needed break to rest and deliver, Chambers returned to the stage with new infant in tow, and things just haven't been the same.

Having Talon in her life also had a significant effect on Chambers' writing, and many of the songs on Wayward Angel reflect her new perspective. "I look at things quite differently now," she says. "And the emotional things that I go through with him are showing up in my creative thinking. The title track is for Talon, and there are several others that are about family issues." As one might expect, the cut titled "Mother" clearly has some deep personal observations. "Once I had my own child, I began to look at my parents differently," Chambers relates, "and now I respect them quite a bit more. Now I understand where they were coming from, and I appreciate them more."

Music has always been a family affair in Chambers' life. In her early teens, she was singer for the Dead Ringer Band, which consisted of family members. Since embarking on a solo career, her dad, Bill, plays lap steel and dobro on her recordings, and brother Nash both plays and produces. Oh, yeah, and her mother, Diane, handles merchandising.

With the support of her family, Chambers has achieved multiplatinum record sales and numerous ARIA awards, which are the Australian equivalents of the Grammys. At the most recent ARIA ceremony last month, Chambers won both Best Country Album and Best Female Artist. Now the goal is to generate the same level of success in the U.S.

So far, there have been a few obstacles. "In Australia, we are considered to be more of a mainstream country act," she explains, "and the fans tend to group us with more traditional country artists. We play for thousands of people at a time in arenas and stadiums over there. In America, we are identified more with the alternative country scene, and the audience seems a bit more musically sophisticated. When I do a Lucinda Williams song, people in the U.S. recognize it and respond." In spite of a lack of mainstream commercial success in the States, Chambers has had the good fortune of having one of her songs used in an episode of "The Sopranos." She's also received a lot of face time on Country Music Television with her eye-catching videos.

She has high hopes for the new album, which she calls "much more personal" than previous releases. When reminded that she once called her 2000 debut, The Captain, the most personal work she would ever do, she said: "Oh, it was at the time. I wrote most of those songs when I was a teenager, and thought I knew everything. Now that I'm older and things are so different, I realize that I didn't know as much as I thought I did. Nowadays, I don't know any more than I did then, but I care a little less about what I don't know."