The New Graces – comprising band members Robyn Martin, Kate Burke and Melanie Horsnell – have been holding a place in the Australian Country Radio and ABC Country top 10 since the release of their debut album, “Seasons”, in April, while Corey’s single, Fireball, this week reached number eight on the Australian Country Radio chart and number three on the AMRAP Regional chart.
While Robyn, Kate and Melanie all live in Candelo, Corey grew up in Bega and wrote his first single, Driving Out of Eden, while he was working as a high-school teacher in Eden.
In true small-town style, the four know each other from the local music circuit and Robyn, who teaches high school music, says she even remembers marking Corey’s HSC music exam.
Corey describes his sound as folk-rock and alt-country, but Fireball, from his upcoming second album, “Some Days”, which will be released in September, has been most popular as a country track.
Although he says he’s never thought of himself as an exclusive country artist, Corey says it’s a direction he’s keen to explore.
“I was lucky enough to record “Some Days” in New Zealand late last year with award-winning producer Ben Edwards,” he says. “I made it home just before the South Coast bushfires broke out.”
The New Graces debut onto the country music charts might come as a surprise to those who’ve followed the individual successes of Robyn, Kate and Melanie in folk and bluegrass, but the decision to make a country album felt natural to the trio.
“Seasons” is produced by legendary country music producer Garth Porter.
“Melanie had worked with Garth in her 20s and he encouraged her to lean country so it was something she suggested,” explains Robyn, who grew up in Ceduna in rural South Australia.
“I was excited. I grew up doing the country music circuit; it’s a big part of my heritage.”
Robyn wrote the band’s first single, Seasons, as an ode to her desert upbringing.
But Kate, who is responsible for the band’s latest single, Misty, says you can’t escape the folkiness of their sound or the strong acoustic bent.
Both The New Graces and Corey have been pouring time, money and passion into creating film clips for their singles, something which has become more important for driving sales since COVID-19 restrictions shut down live performances.
“The film clips were always part of the long-term plan,” says Kate. “It’s just that they became the whole plan after the pandemic.
“Musicians definitely sell the most albums at live gigs so we’re trying to replace that. The film clips are nice because people see our faces so you have a bit of that connection you get at a gig.”
Travel restrictions and COVID-19 lockdown interrupted filming plans so Seasons was shot on the Monaro instead of in Ceduna, and Misty, a nostalgic tune Kate wrote about her time living in Castlemaine, Victoria, in her early 20s, is instead filmed in her hometown of Candelo.
Corey says he often gets asked about the locations in his film clips, many of which were shot around the Bega Valley.
“I’m proud of where I grew up and I like to showcase it,” he says. “My upcoming single is also shot around Bega.”