The release of her new album ‘3’ sends Amber Lawrence’s multiple award-winning country music career soaring as high as the giant jumbo jets that fly over her home in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Mascot, not far from the international airport.
Yes. Amber’s an inner city girl. She’s lived in the hustle, the noise and the hubbub all her life but it has never diluted her passion for country music and its endless themes of heartbreak, story-telling, love, joy, fun and core family values like loyalty. Now ‘3’, (named because it’s her third album) adds another dimension to a career that has been on a sharply vertical lift-off since Amber took up singing and song writing half a dozen years ago and rocked the industry with her burgeoning talents that include five Golden Guitar nominations, six number one songs, the Horizon award, TV performances on major shows like Mornings with Kerri-Anne and Spicks and Specks plus tours and stage appearances with artists including Adam Harvey, Beccy Cole, Melinda Schneider and Lee Kernaghan.
‘3’, with its mixture of upbeat optimism, personal happiness and resilience along with some references to deeper issues including courage in the face of hardship, is another step upward on a sharply-angled career path that has seen Amber delight audiences all over the country - from sold out Tamworth concerts to the Gympie Music Muster - and vastly expand her fan base.
Her own experiences of life’s upheavals, including the death of her father, becoming an aunt to her sister’s two children and lost loves and the pursuit of new ones, have broadened Amber’s musical experiences and her maturity shows on ‘3’.
Throw in Amber’s early experience of being dumped by a boyfriend who had given her a guitar so she could learn to play and boost her career and you get some idea of what ironies shape her lyrics. Songs like “Everything’s A Song”, “Everybody’s A Mess” and “Huge” talk about the importance of personal contentment and emotional stability instead of looking enviously at other people’s lives that may not be as perfect as they look.
“Everybody’s a mess” has already generated such enthusiasm among Amber’s fans that it will be the first song released from the album as a single. “My last album was on a positive note as well but it was more based on moving on after the death of my father” she says. “This album says I know what life is all about at this point in my life and I’m making the most of it, good or bad. I have my glass half-empty days like everyone else but most if the time it’s half-full”.
Adding to her already glittering career lustre is Amber’s insightful skill to write one and co-write the other 12 songs on the album with some of the best known lyricists in country music, including award winner Colin Buchanan, Mike Carr, who wrote song of the year “Real People’’ for Melinda Schneider, Sam Hawksley, Paul Greene, Suzy Connolly and Golden Guitar winning producer Rod McCormack, whose professionally deft touch in the studio is behind the unique sound.
Amber’s partnership with Buchanan produces the most poignant song on ‘3’, “The Man Across The Street”.
was meant as a thank you for the now vanished Bill for saving her life but it became a metaphor for the actions of not just Bill, but all of the Australian soldiers who went to Vietnam and returned emotionally impaired unable to fit comfortably back into society.
The song expanded into a bigger picture to embrace the hundreds of young Australians who sacrificed so much of their own promising futures to protect their country. Not just Bill, as Amber sings “but a thousand more like him who paid the price.”
“Maybe he didn’t want to fight but he was told it was for the greater good of us all. So it became much bigger than him just saving my life when I might have crawled onto that road.”
“It was really emotional writing it. Those soldiers tended to be written off when they came home because they were young and no one realised there was a problem. With hindsight we know how he suffered.”
Amber’s family lost touch with Bill over the years after he moved but she remains hopeful their paths might cross if he hears the song. Amber also linked with Australia’s armed forces when she entertained troops in East Timor in 2007.
“She writes great songs, sings with conviction and delivers a great show,’’ says Harvey. “Her talent and her connection with the audience put Amber ahead of the other young artists in the industry.”
Also joining Amber for a duet on the album is ex-Australian Idol finalist and Home and Away star – Axle Whitehead. Axle’s smoky vocals are a perfect fit for Amber’s on the sexy track 9 ‘My Attraction’. “Axle’s a great singer, who is a big fan of country music – so it was really fun to work with someone outside the normal realms of Australian Country Music”, says Amber.
By her own admission Amber was a late starter as a singer, spending her immediate post-high school years at the University of NSW completing a degree in Accountancy, a profession not known for producing an abundance of country music performers. But she says she is now secure in her confidence that country music is where she belongs and where she is staying. “I wouldn’t want to be any other place,” she says.
Amber came up with the ideas for her songs on ‘3’ but called in song-writing partners to give the finished product a distinctive twist in comparison to the first two albums.
“I wrote almost all the songs by myself on the first two and didn’t want ‘3’ to sound the same,’’ she says. “But I still wanted the songs to be my songs, to tell my story.
The song writing sessions were successful because we had clear ideas in our minds as to where we were headed.
“It’s my truth, it’s my take on the world as I see it right now. Life throws us curve balls and the only thing that's constant is change which always makes for great song subject matter. ‘3’ represents where I'm at personally and creatively at the moment. I’m very proud of this album.”