Life experience and the stories she tells from it, is what keeps Broken Hill singer-songwriter, Sharna Burcher producing her brand of country music and playing it across Australia and beyond. As well as recording overseas, the 2016 CMAA Academy of Country Music graduate has played the Fred Eaglesmith Charity Festival in Canada and gigs throughout the US and opened for Bill Chambers, along with Aleyce Simmonds, Catherine Britt and Fanny Lumsden and the Silverton Sunset Festival, among others.
Following 2013’s Livin’ On Closing Time, her sophomore album Backwards Town debuted at #1 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart. It was also forged through hurt and intense challenges. The album contains twelve songs of heartbreak, resilience, survival, strength, and passion, with some light-hearted fun and freedom throughout.
Recorded at Troubadour House in Nashville with Nash and Bill Chambers, Backwards Town is a work of maturity, rich in sonic colour that references the touchstones of classic country music. Influenced by storytellers ranging from Loretta Lynn to Tammy Wynette and, more recently, Kasey Chambers, Sharna has developed her own unique voice to carry her message.
To get to know the album even better, we grabbed Sharna to talk through each individual track, their creation, sentiment, and everything in between.
I wrote Backwards Town with Bill Chambers. We both come from a small town and we were talking about what it’s like to grow up in a town where everyone knows everyone and when everyone knows everyone’s business. It is the most fun I have ever had writing a song, it was so much fun coming up with the characters and their stories.
I Choose Me
I Choose Me is a song about my own relationship, and the ups and downs of a relationship. The day I wrote this song, I couldn’t quite find a song that explained exactly how I was feeling, so I wrote one. I Choose Me is about loving someone with all of your heart but not losing yourself in that love, at the end of the day knowing that you would give everything you had to the other person but also being strong enough to say I choose me.
Rise from the Ashes
Rise from the Ashes was inspired by an article I read in the paper about a lady who was charged with murder (of her husband). During the trial, it was discovered she was a victim (and survivor) of domestic violence. Her story really stuck with me and got me thinking about other women that I know that had been in abusive relationships and how hard it was for them. Rise from the Ashes is a song about strength, resilience, and survival.
The Hardest Parts
The Hardest Parts is one of the most personal songs I have written and also, my first positive love song. The inspiration came from losing my Mum and my partner losing both of his parents. We lost all 3 within two years of each other and all quite young. It was a hard and very emotional time for us. The Hardest Parts is a reflection on how much our lives have changed in the last few years and how their loss has made us stronger both as individuals and as a couple.
To Be Woman
The song on the album is the second version of this song. The original was a lot more country and was inspired solely by my Grandmother. Once I got in the studio, I decided I didn’t like it enough to record it, I thought I could have written it a lot better, but Bill (producer) talked me into giving it a go. So, the guys and I played around with it until we found a feel I liked. We recorded it and I left with a karaoke version on my phone and re-wrote most of it. The song on the album turned into so much more than I first thought the song would be, this version was inspired by all strong, resilient, and inspiring women in my life.
Cheap Champagne was a song title on my phone for about two years before I done anything with it. I wrote the song around the line “loving you is like drinking cheap champagne”. Once I had that line, I knew it needed to be a cold hard drinking, cheating country song. I am still unsure if the song is in the point of view of a scorned wife or a scorned mistress. Either way, that’s the beauty of music, it’s all up for interpretation.
Harder Than Love
Love is hard! Not just romantic love but any love, sometimes when someone you love hurts you deeply, all you want to do is walk away, but your love for them stops you … That’s hard! Those situations are what this song is about, and being put in that kind of situation myself inspired the song. It was one of the easiest and quickest songs I have ever written. Love is messy, it’s heavy and when it’s real, it can just be plain hard.
Mercy is a true story – my Mother’s story and mine. I started writing this song early 2016. The song confused me. I wasn’t sure why I had written it, or where it had come from, so I put it away and forgot about it. About 12 months later, 6 months after Mum died, I found it again and it really hit me. I finally understood what it was really about. I then wrote the bridge and finished it off. The first verse of Mercy is written from my point of view; the second from Mum’s point of view and we both come together in the chorus and bridge. Begging for mercy from the overwhelming and, at times, unbearable grief of losing our Mothers.
This song is about someone who gets addicted to drugs, tries to outrun the law, but ends up in prison. I just had fun with this song. I wanted to write something a little different to what I usually write. I also wanted it to be a little rockier. For a dark song, it is one of my favourites to play live.
I wrote Rain with Kevin Bennett. For me, Rain is about hitting rock bottom, but finding your way back from that dark place. Everyone has a story, and you never quite know what someone has or is going through. You might think someone has it all, on the outside it looks like they are the luckiest, happiest, person you have ever met, and unless you look deeper, you might never know what it cost them to be the person you see now.
Sing You Back Home
I wrote Sing You Back Home for my Mum the day after she died. I knew I wouldn’t be able to speak at her funeral but knew I would be able to sing, so I wrote a song that was me speaking directly to Mum. I was never going to sing it again after that day, but the album didn’t feel complete without it.
Shoot to Kill
I wrote Shoot to Kill with Bill Chambers the same day we wrote Backwards Town.
I had the title and this idea for a song – modern day dating played out as a western. I had been told some horror stories from friends who had been on a few Tinder dates and, in my mind, I imagined it as if they were standing outside a saloon in a quick draw of sorts.
It’s definitely a tongue in cheek song that’s not meant to be taken seriously.