Jamie McDell: Jamie McDell

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Jamie McDell: Jamie McDell

When Jamie McDell appeared a decade ago as a fully-formed 19-year old singer-songwriter, she was one parents of young teens could happily accept: McDell was outgoing, free of guile, eco-conscious and her image was of the girl on the beach with a guitar singing to friends around a sunset bonfire of driftwood.

Her fine debut album Six Strings and a Sailboat in 2012, which won best pop album at New Zealand music awards, was followed by the more mature Ask Me Anything three years later and it was clear McDell was writing about issues above her audience demographic.

Her wholesome image and move towards thoughtful, adult country music with her largely over-looked 2018 Extraordinary Girl album -- recorded in Nashvilleand featuring Tami Neilson and Australian country star Casey Chambers -- confirmed she was an artist capable of growth and blunt observations. The title track noted “ordinary men break extraordinary girls”.

McDell’s new album – also recorded in Nashville with acclaimed producer Nash Chambers, Casey’s older brother exists between mainstream pop-country (Dream Team, the self-empowered Not Ready Yet with tasty pedal steel), more edgy material (the moody Limousine Running and gritty Daddy Come Pick Me Up) and Celtic-influenced country (Sailor).

And everywhere McDell, now 28, brings adult life experience to her lyrics: a woman driven by the expectations of a man (Botox); from the perspective a woman with a broken family (“I’d give anything for my sister to stay clean”) on the aching Something More; a man paying the price for his ambition and watching “the assets and the values sail away” on Poor Boy; the regretful outsider and “you’re the one that’s doin‘ time” on Worst Crime . . .

Jamie McDell has gone from beach to barroom and this Americana album being self-titled implies a new and profitable beginning.

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