25 September 2023

Backroad Nation

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Lee Kernaghan, ABC Music/Universal Music 2019.

Here are some statistics to ponder: Lee Kernaghan is a 37 time Golden Guitar winner; he’s sold over two million albums in Australia and notched up 38 number one hits on the Australian Country charts.

He’s won four ARIA Awards and was awarded the ARIA Outstanding Achievement Award in 2015.

He’s twice been named Hit Maker Of The Decade (2001 -2011) and he’s been awarded America’s Country Music Association Award for Global Artist Of The Year.

In 2017 he was inducted into the CMC Hall Of Fame. In 2008 he was Australian of the Year

Backroad Nation is his 15th studio album and I think it’s one of his best.

It was produced by Grammy nominated producer and songwriter, Lindsay Rimes who has worked with Kane Brown and Kylie Minogue among many others.

Kernaghan has assembled his usual group of outstanding musicians including Garth Porter, Colin Buchanan, Phil Barton, and producer Rimes who have all made important contributions to the finished product.

He’s also added Nick Wolfe and Robby X to this core band.

Lee says the album is about the feeling you get when you leave the beaten track and the country wraps itself around you.

He says; “A lot of miles and a lot of living has gone into every song. I’ve travelled from Alice Springs to the Deni Ute Muster, from the mighty Pilbara to backroads Queensland and everywhere in between turning those experiences into songs.”

The songs on the album range in genre from the classic country rock he is famous for through to slower numbers built around acoustic instruments.

In each case a lot of attention has been given to building the right sonic framework that creates the atmosphere the song requires.

A track like Round Here uses the signature vamped blues guitar sound while Where I Wanna Be has touches of pedal steel and a duet vocal with Robby X.

My favourite track is Live To Ride, a song about Vietnam Vets who find release from their troubles out on the open road.

Backroad Nation is sure to be another major hit that will have Lee’s name to the forefront once again come award season.

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