Album review: Southern Light by Sal Kimber

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Sometimes when I’m writing a review I wonder if it’s really worth saying much about an album. No doubt the artist would like to read more than a couple of words, to prove that I’ve properly listened to their work. Perhaps their existing fans would too. But people who are unfamiliar with their work might not have the interest or patience for a lot of words. They might just prefer a simple review that helps them make up their minds. 

So, if you aren’t Sal Kimber or one of Sal Kimber’s fans, I’ll do the short review first: this album is seriously, truly wonderful. Buy it right now and enjoy it for years to come.

For those still reading, I’ll say that I was already a fan of Kimber’s but, for the purposes of reviewing (even when I’m reviewing The McClymonts, for whom I have always declared a bias), I keep an open mind. Southern Light, Kimber’s third album and the second with her band The Rollin’ Wheel, is a musical progression from her self-titled second. It has enough elements of country music to keep it in that genre but it slips towards ‘alternative’ rock/pop of the type that is hard to define – that is, the song structure involves verses, chorus and a bridge, so it looks like it might be rock, pop or country, but it’s not any one genre in particular. The songs are just really great. 

There are several songs that are achingly beautiful enough to stop a person in their tracks, including the opener ‘Stumble in the Dark’, ‘Cool Breeze’ and ‘Burrawang’. The pervading mood of the album is upbeat, which means it’s impossible not to smile while listening to it. The songs and stories they contain also show that Kimber is a confident, versatile artist who sounds like she’s released exactly the album she wants to. For me, as someone who listens to a lot of music, this kind of assurance is both exciting and a relief – I can hand over my time to Kimber and know she’s not going to waste it, and I can get excited about what she’s offering. I have no doubt you will feel that way too. 

Southern Light is out now.
Sal Kimber is on tour: dates at salkimber.com.au

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