LA Or Busk

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 December, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 December, 2003, 12:00am

LA Or Busk

Catherine O'Brien

(available at www.catherine, A$24.95)

There are boy bands, girl bands and made-for-TV series bands, for whom stardom arrives gift-wrapped. Then there are genuine artists for whom every cent is hard won.

Catherine O'Brien, whose gigs earn her a few dollars on good days, is one such performer. She works one of the toughest beats imaginable: as a guitar-slinging busker in Kings Cross, Sydney's red-light zone, and she is unlikely to embrace limelight or limousine soon. But this, her first, independently produced album, may at least set her on the road to recognition. Songs that can be heard live on selected street corners most nights of the week, they hint at the wit required to survive under the street lamp, rather than the spotlight: 'Somebody said I've got balls, I told them I got bills/Singing on the streets here isn't my idea of thrills,' (Kings Cross Blues).

O'Brien is hot on sardonic observation, but cool on excessive instrumentation. This is a set that deserves investment, however, not least for its big dose of MTV-less reality.