Crisscrossing her continental homeland with a guitar and no fixed abode, Tracey Bunn has traveled a long way from her Western Australian childhood home, to Darwin, New Orleans, and Mexico and then on to Nashville, Tennessee.


Every road mile Tracey has covered has been accompanied by music. From her early days in Darwin playing country-rock in the late 1980s, she branched out across the world with Cajun, zydeco, mariachi music and western swing before decamping to Ireland where she found herself playing folk.


On her return to Australia in 1999, she met Gleny Ray, a formidably talented fiddler, accordionist and keyboard player, and together they became the Toe Sucking Cowgirls, a festival sensation who, over six grueling years, toured endlessly, released three albums and garnered a swag of awards.


Her underlying panic anxiety disorder began to impact her life and soon both the band and her recent marriage came to an end. So Tracey hung up her guitar and walked away from music. The words of her song “Shutup and Let Me Breathe” hint at how her panic manifests and how others respond to it – “You don’t have a clue/ that the way that I’m feeling is not about you”.


Two years later, she began writing songs again, different songs – songs that were more introspective, serious. But it was a chance meeting with expat Aussie singer/songwriter Anne McCue that inspired her to record her first solo album. She applied for, and was given, an ArtsNT grant to make this dream a reality.


Tracey headed for Nashville, Tennessee, to record By The Wayside with McCue, alongside Aussies Mark Moffat and Bones Hillman, and some of Nashville’s top gun session musicians.


By The Wayside is a gutsy, powerful statement of intent. It is a luscious blend of country, folk and pop rock, sometimes reminiscent of kd lang and Patsy Cline. McCue’s production and musicianship has created the right musical framework to present Tracey’s strong, personal songs.