Ten days before I sat down with AMBER LAWRENCE I received her unreleased album in the mail. Her modern country CD, When It All Comes Down, is an upbeat number with thoughtful lyrics, set in the tone of a Taylor Swift and Kasey Chambers hybrid.
The interview was a rare face to face meeting, which is always a little daunting. To make it even more so, it was to be held at the uber-fancy Hyatt. I wandered around the lobby of the tea lounge trying to find my talent, eventually spying her on a couch; sipping on a fancy pot of tea with her notebook out and pen in hand. As I approached she looked up and greeted me with a warm smile. I felt myself relax a little. Perhaps this face to face interview thing would not be so terrifying after all. I plonked myself next to her on the couch and our conversation began easily.
Amber's first single off the album, Don't Do Lonely Well, was co-written with Clive Young who thought of the title and wanted a "nice soppy love song." Amber quickly put the kibosh on that idea, saying "no, no, I've got a better idea. We'll keep the title, but what about the crazy girlfriend?" It is now her upbeat, light-hearted recount of a few of her zanier nights separated from her partner, or her "stalker" song, as she calls it.
Her passion for country music was not one instilled in her from birth; instead it burgeoned when she picked up a Leanne Rimes album at the age of 19 while studying her accounting degree. Amber then eased into full time singing, slowly letting go of financial security. "I feel as if I am doing it all backwards," she says. "I went [from school] straight to uni and then straight to a job and worked really hard. Now I am a musician, living that kind of nomad life that some people do at 17."
When asked about the album's influences Amber stalls and looks away briefly. Her father died of leukaemia not even a year ago, directly inspiring two tracks on the album while having input on others. However, there is hardly a hint of Amber's personal turmoil in her bubbly tunes. "I don't want to make people sad with this album," she says. "That is not its job. I want people to enjoy it and feel good. If they want to listen closely to the lyrics and it hits hard then that is cool... [But] there are enough sad things; we don't need more sad songs."
I never have been a great country music fan, but this album has been on high rotation in my car and home - maybe I should give Leanne Rimes a shot after all?
Amber will play PJ O'Reilly's on Friday September 4 with friend Travis Collins. A spunky bloke with a similar sound, style and attitude to Amber. Yes, there will be duets. Tickets available through Songland Records.