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It helps that the voices of Australian Emily Barker and her American friends Amy Speace and Amber Rubarth (all three successful, solo singer-songwriters) have been yoked together in Nashville’s Welcome to 1979 studio, where the engineers aim to bottle sound like fine whiskey with the “oak and charcoal” of their super cool analogue gear.

Musically they keep everything simple: guitar, bass, banjo, piano and one naughty scuzz of rockabilly electric. Before studying the sleeve notes, I’d assumed the thirteen lovely songs were retro gems that Barker and co had unearthed.

But it turns out they’ll all new songs penned by the singers with help from a few friends including Adam Levy (who’s written for Norah Jones and Tracy Chapman).

 The standout track is the gorgeous title song from which they also take their name: supported by the heel-dragging slide of Telisha Williams’ upright bass, it’s a slow, dreamy drift through an old-time landscape of dirt tracks, silver stars and tin roofs on which the three women’s voices twist and curl together like tumbling purple leaves they describe. They savour each note until it melts in the mouth. 

With its easygoing, lost-classic charm, Applewood Road is probably destined to be the middle class dinner party album of 2016, but it deserves to be heard beyond the clatter of cutlery. ★★★★★ (

Helen Brown)

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