The essence of Australia's rich heartland and distinct country music thrives in 21-time Golden Guitar winner Sara Storer.
She has a deep connection with the land. Her family has a property in Warren NSW - as the crow flies halfway between Port Macquarie and Wilcannia. She was born in the Mallee country in Victoria and now lives outside of Albury with husband Dave and their four boys, aged from four to 10.
"It's important to step outside the door and open your eyes and listen," she says about her inspiration for writing her poetic songs. Storer says she used to get really worried about coming up with new things to write about.
"I thought I'd written about everything. But there is so much going on in regional Australia. I live out of town. It's important for myself to have that sense of freedom around me, smell fresh air. It keeps you alive, keeps your mind ticking."
She says her family is very close. "[Brother] Greg lives it, so his words are straight from the heart; they're never too far from the truth." About 50 per cent of the songs on her new album Raindance are a collaborative effort with Greg, who is also a successful country music artist and farmer.
"We do a lot of writing together these days. I don't waste time trying to sort things out myself, I voicemail ideas to him, and ask him to come up with a second verse or a chorus." It is a symbiotic relationship with Storer writing for his albums, too. "I do him big favours," she says, "we have a bit of a giggle in the show about it."
Album title track Raindance is one of those written by the siblings. The video features four-year-old Alice, who was volunteered by her grandmother when the original girl got stage fright before the shoot.
"Alice was a bit of a miracle or an angel," Storer says. "She was a trouper from morning to when she did her final dance on top of the hill. She had these unique dance moves, She's not old enough to worry about what people thought and too young to get tired and shut down."
Filming took place at Henty, about 40 minutes from Albury. "We got everyone from the town involved, they're all real people. They have been desperate for water, and the day we released the clip it poured. Alice really was a rain dancer. Posts on Facebook went crazy."
Next Year People is a duet with Colin Hay. "It is very powerful. I don't normally record other people's songs unless they resonate with me. When I first heard it on Colin's album, it's one of those songs that take you somewhere and I was blown away."
Storer says all the songs on the album are personal. "They are about my life, my family, and regional Australia. I feel like a spokesperson for people in the bush, I have a soft spot for what they do."
My Little Men is about her boys. "They each get a verse."
Country star Shane Nicholson engineered the drum and guitar tracks for the album at his Central Coast Sound Hole Studio. "I've known Shane and Kasey [Chambers] for many years. I wanted to go to a completely different studio, to get a completely different sound, a little bit more grunt on the album, and record things a little bit differently, with a different vibe."
Supporting Storer on the tour are Shanley Del and her husband James Gillard. "I've known James since my first album. Shanley had about a 20-year break from the scene, but when I saw her at Tamworth two years ago, I thought I really want to work with her."
"Being on the road with my brother, and Shanley and James, and singing those songs to the audience for the first time, it's a wonderful thing to be able to share music about what people are going through."
The Laurieton United Services Club show kicks off the eight gig first section of the album tour. "We're working on the extended tour, but as a family unit, we've got to be on an even keel. I miss the boys, they miss me, we all need to make sure we all get enough time together."
A new worldwide contract with Universal Music Australia is a boon for Storer. "They are wonderful to work with, really involved. For me as an artist, music is always the number one priority, putting out the best music possible. l know I can leave the other work up to them. We're always working at getting better at what we do and I think on this album my vocals are the strongest they've been.