Australian warbler Kasey Chambers is a mother now, but thankfully she’s avoided the mistake made by some newly minted parents who take narcissism for family values. “Wayward Angel” (Warner Bros.), her latest album, is dedicated to her 2½-year-old son, and its smoother, more restrained style reflects a life in which young children are sleeping in the next room. But at El Rey, Chambers joked that her son is “perfect, which is easy to say because he’s not on tour.”
Without a child in tow, Chambers rediscovers the feisty, sweet and sour style that made her first two albums so compelling. The guitars are plugged in for the rangy, Neil Young-styled “Barricades and Brickwalls” and “Runaway Train,” both featuring the gritty picking of her father, Bill Chambers (although she covers “Come a Time,” one of Young’s most squishy tunes). Her cover of Lucinda Williams’ “Change the Locks” matches the original in its ferocity, and the swiftly picked “Last Hard Bible” turns the outback into the dust bowl.
Still, motherhood has affected her songwriting. “Pony” lopes along at an easy canter, a pace that can calm a tetchy infant, as each verse starts with the phrase “when I grow up,” while “Going Fishing” is the kind of glorious nonsense you sing to amuse a child.
Chambers runs through the 90-minute set with an easygoing charm; she’s a woman happy to be back on the job after maternity leave. And time spent focusing on children has not dulled her ability to communicate with adults.
Chambers plays New York’s Irving Plaza Nov. 16.