AUDREY AULD MEZERA
"Lost Men And Angry Girls"
Hopefully there will be a good writer someday, who will give shape to the biography of Audrey Auld Mezera. She was born in Australia, learned to play classical violin when she was six and performed with the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra at fourteen. Then an introduction in Art School sparked her enthusiasm for Texas music and traditional country. She made albums (this is already the seventh), toured internationally for eleven years now, started her own label and even moved to the USA in 2003. No doubt that Audrey and her sailor "Mez" have a touching love story to tell. At least they managed to cut themselves loose from the tangled red tape of bureaucracy that keeps most intercontinental couples apart, so: more power to them!
"Lost Men And Angry Girls", nicely digipacked, is a trademark Audrey album. The music is traditional country with a wink to Texas, she sings with her clear, expressive voice the classic way, like a Patsy Cline did, her accent is barely noticable. Even on a CD she knows how to connect with her audience, spontaneous and with humor. To get an idea what her live-shows are like, I can recommend the double-CD "In The House" (with Nina Gerber): she talks just as much as Fred Eaglesmith and plays his "Alcohol And Pills", I understand why they became friends and besides Fredheads there are also Audreyheads these days!
Nina Gerber is featured on this album too, playing guitar on a live-recording of "Half A World Away". The other live-recording is "Clinch Mountain Prayer" with Bill Chambers on vocals and acoustic guitar. "I'll say a prayer for thee / Sara and AP / As your spirits fly / With Maybelle in the sky." Yes, Audrey knows her classics! "Down In A Hole" refers to various old "mining" songs and lets the musicians shine: together with Bills guitar we hear Rod McCormack on banjo and Mick Albeck (fiddle). "Looking For Luckenbach" ends with Bill singing: "I'm going to Luckenbach Texas / With Willie and Waylon and the boys", so it's an ode to that other song about "the smallest town in Texas with the biggest reputation." First track on the album, "Bolinas", is about a town in California, where Audrey spent her first year in The States. She says: "The Summer of Love continues in this little town on the wrong side of the crack (San Andreas fault line). There is no road sign to Bolinas as the locals always tear it down. The Indians used to advise against living there as it led to craziness. Now, it's neon peace signs, Zen surfers, "Homeless" as a fashion statement, restraining orders are de rigeur, wealth, poverty, pot as currency and organic food." The chorus: "Bolinas - lost men and angry girls / Bolinas - slipping off the edge of the world." She also refers to the restraining order that she had to file on a stalker, when she tells about the angry song "Not I": "This is not a love song. Anger is hatred, attachment and ignorance. Love thy enemy (in this case 'thy crazy stalker') for they teach the greatest lessons." Raechel Lee sings with Audrey on this track, while "Dublin Boy" is a nice duet with Karl Broadie, who moved from Scotland to Australia.
Backed up by some great musicians, the recordings were done in Central Coast, NSW, Australia and the instrument that intrigues me most is the piano accordion, played by Tim Wedde. In the humorous department we find songs like "Self-Help Helped Me" and "Buck Hungry", where a man swaps his wife for his brother's prize stud bull! The odd cover is "Morphine", Audrey explains: "The original hand-written lyrics to this song reside in a private collection in Austin, TX. Written in lead pencil on grey paper bearing the letter-head - Oklahoma Rehabilitation & Industrial Estate. Signed by Bonnie Lamb aka Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie & Clyde), this is the first recording of her song. Bonnie notes that the lyrics are to be sung to the tune of "Mother", from the 1930's." Interesting... The prize track (it made her a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Folk Festival songwriting contest) is "Last Seen In Gainesville". Inspired by a "missing person" poster in a Texas truck stop that haunted her, Audrey notes: "Sadly, these stories are often left unresolved and untold."
And while I'm recommending this one, let me also mention "Texas", Audrey's album from 2004. With Bill Chambers, Kimmie and son Gabe Rhodes, Darcie Deaville and Carrie Rodriguez! Featuring that strong Mary Gauthier-cover "Karla Faye" and odes to her heroes Woody Guthrie, Harlan Howard and Billy Joe Shaver. In a recent newsletter Audrey even tells at some length the story of Billy Joe's shooting incident and when she claims: "If I were American, I'd be Texan", I believe her immediately!
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, April 2007.