It’s been over ten years since The Watson Twins worked with Jenny Lewis on their classic album Rabbit Fur Coat. I feel incredibly privileged to have heard the twins sing live with Jenny a few times and was delighted to see they had released this new album called Duo. The album is produced by Russ Pollard and the excellent backing band includes Vanessa Carlton, members of My Morning Jacket and Mickey Raphael, who has worked with Willie Nelson. On these eight Americana-inspired songs Chandra and Leigh meld their voices together to create a truly heavenly sound. Continue reading “Album Review: The Watson Twins – Duo”
Cat Power has always been a singular artist, someone who walks her own musical way. Being a distinctive stylist means she can create evocative widescreen moments within the simplest of arrangements. Her voice makes original songs and covers all sound like they were born from the same moment of pain and joy which is uniquely her own.
Her last album Sun was something of an outlier in her catalogue. At the time it felt like she was experimenting with new sounds and synths in an intriguing way. Listening to it now, years later and the layers of sound feel like she’s stretching at times, trying to navigate the confusion of life through musical experimentation. When it worked it was exhilarating (like on Nothin But Time and Manhattan), but you had to wonder if she was entirely comfortable with this new direction.
So it is unsurprising to hear her new album, Wanderer, strip things back to basics. Gone are the kaleidoscopic electronics, and the soulful jazz flourishes, now replaced with simple guitar and piano. Together the introspective songs sound like one glorious lullaby. Continue reading “Album Review: Cat Power – Wanderer”
A noticeable twenty-first century trend in indie rock is the proliferation of solo artists rather than your typical four piece band. In a way it is a reflection of our online culture, where to be heard over the din means stepping forward into the spotlight and selling yourself. Many solo artists now work with the same group of musicians but have to use their own name, or some form of pseudonym, for easier recognition. Maybe something is lost when the merging of different musical personalities is no longer the dominant form, but you can see the benefits of being solo from the start – no creative differences, no-one to share the songwriting credits with, no complicated break-ups.
However when you look closer at the sleeve notes of these solo artists you see that actually most of them are still co-writing and collaborating with others, just in looser, more flexible arrangements. Sometimes, though, the need for solo artists to work together on a shared project becomes more tangible and significant. Sometimes you have to give it a name. Continue reading “E.P. Review: boygenius”
Love is like a Butterfly is one of the sweetest songs Dolly Parton ever recorded and was the title track to her second solo album of 1974, the follow up to Jolene. With its fluttering piano, Butterfly may not be a traditional country song but it celebrates love and nature in a simple way that fits with Dolly’s musical vision. It was her third number one in a row and became her signature song at the time, eventually chosen the theme tune to her first TV solo show in 1976. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Love is Like A Butterfly”
Golden Hour may have divided the country music purists but one glance around the crowd entering the building on this chilly Glasgow evening proves that Kacey Musgraves’s move towards the mainstream is paying off. She has managed to keep the more mature country music fans and brought in a mix of younger, mainly female and LGBT fans, whose energy and glitter are welcome additions to any audience. Continue reading “Live Review: Kacey Musgraves, Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow”
Five long years have passed since the Pistol Annies’ second album Annie Up and in that time Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley have all released critically acclaimed solo albums and been through some serious living. Thankfully Holler, Hippie and Lone Star Annie have finally found time in their busy and dramatic lives to reunite and record this new album, Interstate Gospel. And thank God they did because we need women’s voices in music, specifically country music, more than ever. Continue reading “Album Review: Pistol Annies – Interstate Gospel”
Last year Atlanta based band The Whiskey Gentry released a great album of witty country songs called Dead Ringer and now their front-woman Lauren Morrow is stepping out solo with this superb self-titled EP. Lauren has recently moved to Nashville and the four songs featured on the EP were recorded at the Creative Workshop studio, produced by Parker Cason. Continue reading “EP Review: Lauren Morrow”
Exploring the subject of how music and sexuality have become entwined in popular culture is the hugely ambitious task which critic Ann Powers takes on in this book ‘Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music.’ Continue reading “Music Book Club October: ‘Good Booty’ by Ann Powers”
As October draws to an end, the bitter winds are closing in and we’re all missing the summer so there’s no better tonic to our collective seasonal affective disorder than an evening with Swedish sisters First Aid Kit and their sublime set of songs. Continue reading “Live Review: First Aid Kit, Usher Hall, Edinburgh “