From the first verse of the first track, Kasey Chambers' sophomore set, "Barricades & Brickwalls" (due Feb. 12 from Warner Bros.), bursts with passionate songwriting and a singing voice fraught wi

From the first verse of the first track, Kasey Chambers' sophomore set, "Barricades & Brickwalls" (due Feb. 12 from Warner Bros.), bursts with passionate songwriting and a singing voice fraught with emotion, yet tough as steel. The 13-track effort weaves the Australian Chambers' soul-searching lyrics against a backdrop of country, blues, and folk musical influences, resulting in a pleasing, hard-to-classify sound.

With these songs, her intention is to showcase the many aspects of her personality. "Barricades & Brickwalls" is an appropriate follow-up to 1999's "The Captain," which earned worldwide acclaim, most notably the 1999 ARIA (Australian Grammy) Award for best country album and the 2000 ARIA Award for best female artist.

Chambers explains, "I think the first album was more about the last 21 years of my life. ["Barricades"] is who I am now and where I'm going. It depicts the different moods of Kasey Chambers."

With help from Lucinda Williams (Chambers' "biggest female role model"), the Living End, Paul Kelly, Matthew Ryan, and Buddy Miller, the set exudes a musical freshness and energy as it delves into themes of insecurity and longing on the one hand and determination and strength on the other. First single "Not Pretty Enough," for example, deals with the ultimate acceptance of personal doubts and fears.

Most of the tracks were recorded between Chambers' Australian and U.S. tours in 2000 with her brother, Nash (the album's producer and Chambers' manager), and her father, Bill, who contributed dobro and slide instrumentation.

Chambers grew up living off the land with her hunter/fishermen parents, who imparted their love of country music to their children. By 1992, Chambers was the lead singer of the family's musical group, the Dead Ringer Band, with her mother, Diane; Bill; and Nash. The group performed throughout the Australian countryside and ended up recording seven CDs and earning a number of ARIA and Australian Country Music Awards.

Though the group disbanded in the late '90s, Chambers is very comfortable working in the recording studio with her family. "I don't know any different," she says. "I just like the way it works. They have been such a big part of my life and my career that it was just inevitable that they were going to be part of this album as well -- and every other album I'll do from here on in."

Chambers plans to launch a short U.S. tour this February. It will kick off Beb. 12 in New York, and visit Washington, D.C., Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. "It's amazing how many people have a passion for her after seeing her perform," Warner Bros. marketing director Peter Standish explains. "It's very rare to find a passive Kasey Chambers fan."

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