In August Katelann Maree, a singer-songwriter from Miles, Queensland/Barunggam country, released her debut single, ‘Grandad’s Guitar’ . The word ‘debut’ implies that an artist is at the start, but Katelann Maree already had a long involvement with music. Her family members include singer-songwriter Sharon Grealy, Katelann Maree’s mother, and ‘Chinchilla Slim’, her grandfather Jimmy Grealy. Katelann Maree was given her grandfather’s guitar when she was seven and she’s been a musician ever since, singing and performing, including a stint as a back-up singer in her aunt and uncle’s band.
Last year Katelann Maree attended the Academy of Country Music in Tamworth, arriving with three of the four songs that appear on her new EP, Different Kind of High. At the academy she met Catherine Britt and Melody Moko, and both of those artists worked with her to complete the songs. It was a fortuitous meeting that contributed to the development of this powerful EP .
Different Kind of High is impressive not just because Katelann Maree is a really compelling singer – she has great range and ability to work with emotion in her voice – but because she has produced several songs that deal with truly difficult subjects and completely claimed them as her stories to tell. ‘Troubled Man’ is about a father who deserts his children after his marriage ends. The title track is about looking for a different kind of high after going through the destruction of other highs. Katelann Maree does not try to dress up these stories so they lose their impact or are misinterpreted. They hit hard, but the promise of a happier ending is in the way she sings them: she has made it through and she can now share all of this with us. The fourth track, ‘Better Man’, looks more clearly to that happier ending.
While the EP is four songs long it feels like we go through a life cycle with Katelann Maree, from her childhood to now. That’s a lot of ground to cover but it’s done with a light touch even as there is depth in the songs. This EP provides a rich listening experience and some very fine country music.