Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: Live Last Night

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Live Last Night

By Juli Thanki

From the days of Kitty Wells and Red Foley to the more recent efforts of Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell, duets have been a vital part of the country music tradition. The newest link in the chain is Australian husband-and-wife team Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson, musicians with critically acclaimed solo careers whose collaboration "Rattlin' Bones" was considered by many one of the best alt-country albums of 2008. Joined by Kasey's father Bill Chambers, a fine musician himself, the pair delighted a crowd at the Birchmere Tuesday night, the first stop on their U.S. tour.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

With pictures of their two sons between them, Chambers and Nicholson delivered gorgeous harmonies reminiscent of Gram and Emmylou as Kasey's delicate soprano wrapped around the raspier vocals of her husband. The performance, composed of selections from "Rattlin' Bones" as well as each artist's solo work, also featured well-chosen covers, including a rollicking version of Gram Parsons's "Still Feeling Blue" and a minimalist take on the Cindy Walker classic "You Don't Know Me," interspersed with affectionate teasing between the spouses.

The nearly two-hour show was largely a family-friendly affair (a good thing, too, considering the number of kids in the audience) as Chambers and Nicholson showcased a pair of songs from their upcoming children's album, "Poppa Bill and the Little Hillbillies." Based on this brief taste, the record will equally appeal to parents who can't bear another second of the Wiggles. At the other end of the country-song spectrum was Nicholson's murder ballad "Summer Dress," a song which, after some thought, he recategorized as a "missing person ballad," stating that the former was "too depressing."

Really, the only depressing moment of the evening was that it had to end.

By David Malitz |  August 12, 2009; 12:46 PM ET Live Last Night
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