Album Review: Lainey Wilson – Bell Bottom Country

A couple of weeks back Lainey Wilson stormed the Country Music Awards, winning Female Vocalist as well as New Artist of the Year, rewarding a woman who has been working hard to make a name for herself in a crowded and challenging mainstream country music world.

Her new album ‘Bell Bottom Country’ shows that she understands what modern country music needs to be – both familiar and yet forward looking, personal but full of common truths.

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Album Review: Plains – I Walked With You A Ways

The recent trend in the music industry for collaboration between women artists continues with this recently released Plains record, featuring Jess Williamson and Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee. When so much of an artist’s worth seems tied up in who they are and how they can sell themselves as individuals, there’s obviously something very appealing in working with different people and releasing music under a new name. Perhaps financial pressures also encourage women to team up, tour together and share the burden of press duties. In the old days you formed a band and then went solo, nowadays it’s the other way around.

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Album Recommendation: Caitlin Rose – Cazimi

Reading the recent Guardian interview with Caitlin Rose was revealing, but not in the way you might expect. Here was an artist refusing to share her trauma or explain the personal reasons for the nine year gap between records. In an online world where oversharing is normalised (and monetised) the statement: I don’t think artists owe their stories, I think they owe music is radical and refreshing.

What Caitlin did share was that she has felt ‘stuck’ in her career. You can imagine then, how hard it must be to come back after a long time away. Seeing the endless, constant success of others paraded on social media can only add more doubt. Stasis is no surprise.

To break out Caitlin did something simple: she gave herself permission to stay in her ‘comfort zone’, connecting with friends who made her want to enjoy music again rather than aiming for something radically different. Old fans will recognise this artist immediately, with Cazimi reminding us what made her such an engaging voice in the first place.

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Album Review – Courtney Marie Andrews – Loose Future

Since starting this blog in 2017 Courtney Marie Andrews has released three studio albums, establishing herself as one of the most prolific women solo artists of the moment. Each album has been searching, both inwardly and outwardly for a better, more honest life. Musically too she has explored the darkness and the light, touching the edges of genres and influences, weaving her stories into melodies that feel effortless and essential.

Some fans may be worried that this level of productivity suggests she is stuck in the hamster wheel of the music industry content churn (with the consequent inevitable burnout). Luckily for us listeners Loose Future feels more like an exhale. The album is perhaps less sonically ambitious than ‘May Your Kindness Remain’ or emotionally fraught as ‘Old Flowers’ but that well…looseness…feels freeing and refreshing.

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Under Her Influence – Songs Inspired by Loretta Lynn

Country music legend Loretta Lynn has today died peacefully in her sleep, aged 90. Some of the many artists paying tribute to Loretta online included Dolly Parton, Carole King, Wynnona Judd, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Drive By Truckers, Waxahatchee and Valerie June. Her influence runs deeper than the well in Butcher Hollow from where she once drew water.

Loretta’s straight-talking spirit, absolute authenticity and often confrontational style has few parallels in country music, or any genre. She was an icon of individuality, and an irreplaceable loss.

Read on to find some of the best examples of songs which pay tribute to Loretta or which echo her work. Feel free to add any further suggestions to the comments or on social media and I will add them to a playlist.

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Album Review – Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville

Friday was a big day in a small town – Lindeville is now firmly on the country music map. Here you will find memorable characters and hear hilarious stories you will recognise no matter where in the world you’re from. Brought to life by some of the best songwriters in the business this stop may just be a short diversion for most of the featured artists but Lindeville will surely stay in their memory for a long time.

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Album Review: Nikki Lane – Denim and Diamonds

‘Making a record with Nikki Lane saved my life. Her songs about life, love, loss and just plain picking yourself up to go for another round in the ring…helped me do the same,’ Josh Homme declared on Instagram last week, a sentiment which honours the power of the Highway Queen herself and also references the trouble he’s been in lately. Truly I know how he feels, since I started this blog five years ago during a particularly low point in my life, after being inspired by Nikki’s spirit, attitude and musical style.

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Album Review: Sunny Sweeney – Married Alone

Can a song fix everything?

Songs are lifeboats for me. Music saves my soul and my sanity every damn day. Hitting the repeat button until a new song is inside your heart and soul is one of the joys of my life. Other people may let music wash over them, a background soundtrack to other more interesting pursuits. But for me, for most of us reading this blog I’m sure, music is the answer to a question we don’t even know how to ask.

Sunny Sweeney understands. On this new album she shows us how music can save your life, bring you comfort when life gets rough, maybe even bring someone back to life even for a moment. Music is the closest feeling we have to that kind of miracle.

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