Apart from Queensland’s massive CMC Rocks Festival we don’t get to hear much about the appreciation of country music in Australia on this side of the world, or indeed about their homegrown artists. But the genre has a massive following ” down under” it seems, a quick search came up with numerous country music festivals which under normal circumstances would be taking place there this year including last weekend’s 21st annual ” Hats Off To Country” event in Tamworth NSW. All credit ( or hats off!) to the event’s organisers who managed to move the festival online via their FB page, and I made a point of checking out the set by female trio ” The New Graces” who have recently been brought to my attention. Having already streamed their music and fallen under the spell of their wonderful lyrics and bluegrass inspired sound, I was equally impressed by their slick and extremely entertaining live performance. Occasionally switching up instruments, the three shared lead vocals as well as harmonising beautifully, and during their short set they played a selection of self-penned songs from their recently released album ” Seasons” including the title track, a beautiful love story which also shows their deep affection for their country.
Band members Melanie Horsnell, Kate Burke and Robyn Martin are all NSW locals and were individually seasoned members of the Australian music scene both as performers and writers before they joined forces relatively recently. Each bring their slightly different influences and style to ” The New Graces” .
Mother of two Melanie has been described as a ” songwriting gem” by The Australian. She first picked up the guitar aged five, learning classical and flamenco styles, but hadn’t considered a career in music until winning national songwriting competitions in her late teens when she moved to London for a year, busking and honing her writing skills. She has released multiple albums ( including one in French!), toured extensively on her own in Australia and Europe as well as with the likes of Jason Mraz and Slaid Cleaves and has written songs for film and television.
Kate is a singer/multi-instrumentalist who has garnered much acclaim over the years including as a member of Irish/Australian traditional band ” Trouble In The Kitchen”. Like Melanie, she is a mother and as well as being an in demand musician, vocalist, composer and producer she has a full time job as innovation consultant, travelling extensively throughout Australia. Over the years she has recorded with various artists and been involved in a variety of musical project, including writing and performing music for the 2017 feature length documentary film ” Being Change”. Among her many adventures she has toured Ireland with renowned Irish folk singer Andy Irvine and appeared as a solo vocalist at the Sydney Opera House.
Bass player Robyn began her musical career in her family band, and took time off school to tour with her sister before going to university where she majored in composition and bass guitar while also travelling to remote areas of central Australia to deliver music workshops. As well as being involved with many and varied local bands ( including fronting the funk/soul/reggae band ” The Pocket”) she has performed with UK’s bluegrass outfit ” Flats and Sharps” but ” The New Graces” is her first opportunity to perform her own compositions.
The trio’s aforementioned album ” Seasons” , released a couple of months ago , has already attracted a lot of favourable attention, getting to No.1 on the Aria Australian Country Album Chart, and earlier this month the nostalgic album track ” Misty” written and sung by Kate became their latest single release. The song’s beautifully atmospheric video was shot in and around their hometown of Candelo.