Album Review: Iris DeMent – Workin’ On A World

More than most in the music industry, Iris DeMent is a thinker. Her musical output is slower than most, not because of indifference, but because she makes sure she has something worthy to share with the listener first. Of these songs on her new album ‘Workin’ on a World’ Iris has said: “Not everybody’s going to get them, but there’s people that get them – and they need them.”

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Album Review: Margo Price – Strays

To stray is to go off the beaten path, wandering without a home, scratching survival on your own terms.

No surprise then that Margo Price would name her new album ‘Strays’, since she has embraced that identity since the beginning of her career. In her recent memoir Maybe We’ll Make It she underlined how hard she’d worked to remain a stray – to never compromise the vision she had for her music.

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Live Review – Emily Scott Robinson with Violet Bell and Alisa Amador @ Celtic Connections 28/01/23

Last year Emily Scott Robinson, Alisa Amador and duo Violet Bell released an E.P. called ‘Built on Bones’ written for a production of Macbeth. In the songs they sang from the perspective of Shakespeare’s three witches and Lady Macbeth herself, in an attempt to reclaim and reframe the narrative of these women’s stories.

Taking to the Celtic Connections stage was a natural fit then for these artists – where better to sing the songs inspired by the Scottish play? The hallowed surrounding of the Mackintosh Church, only added to the beauty of the evening’s entertainment.

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Live Review: Lucinda Williams @ Celtic Connections 23/01/2023

‘I can still sing,’ Lucinda Williams said on stage during her show on Monday night, a defiant reminder that despite a stroke she still has her voice. As a singer and lyricist she’s always turned the broken and fragile parts of her life into songs, and they felt even more vital and powerful after all she’s been through to get back on tour again.

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Live Review: Sierra Hull & Rachel Baiman @ Celtic Connections

On a freezing January evening there is nothing more restoring to the soul and the spirit than a night of brilliant music, courtesy of the wonderful Celtic Connections festival. Returning to Glasgow after many covid postponements Sierra Hull and Rachel Baiman brought the best of Nashville musicianship to Scottish shores and were greeted warmly by a sold-out and appreciative crowd of folk music lovers.

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What I’ve Learned From Listening to Every Dolly Parton Album

I started my project to listen to all of Dolly’s albums in 2018 and I admit it took me much longer to finish this than I had anticipated (see the full list of reviews here). When you grow up with an artist and listen along to them, it’s much easier to connect and put their work in context than trying to listen to everything all at once. Many of Dolly’s albums are tied to particular eras in time and music history, which were pretty alien and musically discombobulating to return to.

What I did learn about her music and her life might already be obvious to others, but I thought I would share some of my conclusions here about what Dolly’s music can teach us about how to live a good life.

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Every Dolly Parton Solo Album Ranked!

Listening to every Dolly solo album in order was a mammoth task and one which offers me some insight into the quality of her work over the last few decades.

Ranking albums is a fun task for music nerds like myself, and I began by splitting the albums into four categories: excellent, good, average, terrible. After that I went back to read my reviews (linked below) and listened again to determine which order I think best reflects the quality of Dolly’s work and my own personal favourites.

I chose the number one album because I think it best encapsulates everything Dolly has to offer: country, pop, bluegrass, classic songwriting, and above all else personality.

I have excluded soundtrack albums, her Christmas albums, the Dollywood only album and her children’s album, making a total of 44 albums to rank.

Read on and let me know your favourite Dolly album in the comments! Click each link for the full album review!

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Dolly’s Discography – Pure & Simple (2016)

‘Pure & Simple’ is an album dedicated to Dolly’s mysterious husband Carl Dean, a man who has kept himself out of the spotlight for her entire career. The songs Dolly has written about him in the past include ‘Jolene’ and ‘Just Because I’m A Woman’, neither of which paint him in an entirely flattering light. To do an album of love songs in the year they renewed their vows is a tribute to the longevity of their marriage, while also offering Dolly something different in terms of theme at this point in her career.

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Dolly Parton’s Discography: Blue Smoke (2014)

A couple of years back I made a running playlist of Dolly Parton songs, my favourite of which is the title track from this album ‘Blue Smoke’. My running route included quite a large hill and so this song would usually come on just at the point I was ‘climbin’ up the mountain’ and I found it always gave me the motivation I needed to keep going. The tune is one of Dolly’s most underrated songs, about leaving behind your old life and never looking back. A simple bluegrass arrangement that suits Dolly so well and one of her catchiest melodies – so catchy that the Glastonbury crowd picked it up almost instantly despite it being unfamiliar to most of them when she played it there.

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