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Kasey Chambers hits a creative peak with new album

Brian T. Atkinson

Kasey Chambers' expansive "Little Bird" backs country ("Love Like a Hurricane") and pop ("Someone Like Me") with gnashing garage rock ("Train Wreck"). No question: This watertight collection tops "Wayward Angel" (2004) as the Australian's career peak.

Chambers performs in support of "Little Bird" Thursday at Momo's.

American-Statesman: Sounds like these songs came together pretty quickly.

Kasey Chambers: I'd actually told my label in Australia, "Don't expect any albums any time soon. I'm just not feeling creative." And, "Leave me alone." (She laughs.) All of a sudden, these songs just started pouring out within three or four weeks. I was stoked.

How typical is that?

It's different from how I normally do things. I usually write over a couple years. I'm not very disciplined (and) write whenever the mood hits me. Sometimes that means I don't write a song for a year, but I don't try to force it too much.

Did a common lyrical theme immediately develop?

I found that a lot of the songs were, as clichéd as it sounds, inspired by my life. There are stories about my early childhood and my teenage years and stories about my kids and everything in between.

How did "Beautiful Mess" take shape?

I have a 9-year-old boy and another boy who's just about to turn 4 and another one on the way. I wrote that song about being a mother to the little people who constantly keep me amused and keep my feet on the ground and constantly keep me busy as well.

Does having kids generally influence the subject matter you write about?

I don't pay much attention to that consciously, but it definitely does have an impact. I think whatever's going on in my life impacts me creatively.

What prompted you to enter that song into the International Songwriting Competition? ("Beautiful Mess" won the contest's grand prize for 2010.)

It was actually (my husband) Shane (Nicholson) who told me about it. He said, "There's this international songwriting competition, and I think I might enter it." I said, "Well, maybe I will, too!" The funny thing is that Shane didn't get his songs together in time and didn't get to enter. That knocked out some competition for me, which was nice. (She laughs.)

What did you take away from writing with Shane on (2008's) "Rattlin' Bones"?

I found myself really thinking about the actual craft of songwriting. Shane is a really great co-writer, and I'd never really done much co-writing.

What does (the band's new fiddler) Ashleigh Dallas bring to the onstage dynamic?

She's only 18 years old, and this is her first time to America. She's so excited! We just relate to each other so well. She grew up playing in her dad's country band with the whole family, which is really similar to my story, and she grew up listening to the same mixture of old-time American country music and a lot of old-time Australian stuff.

Which clearly explains how (Michael Jackson's) "Beat It'"and (the Bee Gees') "Stayin' Alive" made it into your recent set in Boston.

(She laughs.) That's in this bluegrass medley that we do. It makes sense in the set, but when you take it out of context it does sound a little strange.

Kasey Chambers with Warren Hood and the Goods