‘Safe Distance’ is Janet Simpson’s first solo release since the nineties, although she’s kept busy with bands and projects in the interim period. Fittingly enough the sound of this new record doesn’t veer too far from that decade, creating a loose and live style of Americana and indie rock throughout. Continue reading “Album Review: Janet Simpson – Safe Distance”
In the video for her new version of Coal Miner’s Daughter, Loretta Lynn swings on a porch seat, speaking the words to her most famous song with a blissful contentment that comes from a life well lived. Compared to other country legends at similar points in their career (see the existential crisis of Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’) Loretta appears serene.
That old cabin in Butcher Hollow she speaks of is from another century, another world long gone. Now she is a queen on a throne, almost ready to pass her title to those successors in waiting but not quite done ruling her kingdom just yet. Her crown rests lightly on the arm, the glitz of her ballgown and jewellery as dazzling as her defiant stare. The signature guitar at her side, Loretta looks ‘Still Woman Enough’ to reign supreme. Continue reading “Album Review: Loretta Lynn – Still Woman Enough”
After releasing her prescient, apocalyptic masterpiece Norman Fucking Rockwell! Lana Del Rey received a torrent of critical acclaim for the album and critical attacks for her social media posts. Such is the circle game of the internet. Lana preempted the potential reaction to her follow up album by announcing that she felt sorry for it in advance, knowing it could never match up to its older sibling. In the end she shouldn’t have worried. Chemtrails Over the Country Club is cool, confident and content in its own skin. Continue reading “Album Review: Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Country Club”
Why can’t back when happen again? Asks Melissa Carper on her new album, a question which could refer to bringing back the good old days musically as well as reigniting old flames. With its vintage country and western sound Daddy’s Country Gold shows that sometimes history repeats in the best kind of ways. Continue reading “Album Review: Melissa Carper – Daddy’s Country Gold”
Vivian Leva’s last album ‘Time is Everything’ was an underrated folk country gem and on this new self-titled album she promotes her previous collaborator Riley Calcagno to equal billing. You sense the deep musical and songwriting connection between the duo, who together have created an authentic, effortless country sound. Continue reading “Album Review: Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno”
Some voices are instantly calming, transporting you to the heavens, letting you drift away from the worry of the world below. On her new album ‘The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers’, Valerie June invites us to take a trip on her cloud, singing us healing messages of hope and positivity. Continue reading “Album Review: Valerie June – The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers”
Instrumental albums pose challenges for reviewers like myself whose natural tendency is to focus on vocals and lyrics. Yet I love to listen to this kind of music, to let it work its mysterious magic on my soul and instead of deconstructing the words to search for the narrative in my own emotional reaction to the sound. Yasmin Williams’s new album ‘Urban Driftwood’ is a masterpiece of acoustic guitar playing, connecting with her instrument on a level that reaches the sublime. Continue reading “Album Review: Yasmin Williams – Urban Driftwood”
This year has exposed the uncomfortable truth that many in the music industry are struggling to keep their heads above water both financially and emotionally. The pandemic has destroyed the touring eco-system and underlined the endemic issues caused by loss of income due to streaming.
Paradoxically the Internet which caused the collapse of physical record buying, could actually offer some useful solutions. Since lockdown began musicians have been diversifying into live-streaming and using their social media to connect with fans.
Platforms like Instagram and YouTube offer further opportunities but these may veer too close to asking musicians to become influencers or vloggers for some to be entirely comfortable. Selling out might be an outdated concept but there are still some limits. And while crowdfunding for individual projects has been helpful in the past, many have been burned by the Pledge Music scandal which left artists and fans out of pocket and suspicious of digital middle men.
In contrast the direct funding site Patreon seems to be much less of a risky endeavour. Artists ask for monthly donations in return for tiered rewards which are usually content based rather than linked to physical products – for example exclusive live-streams, q and as, discounts on merch, first opportunities to buy tickets for shows, written updates, cover songs, workshops, meet and greets etc. Some do offer physical products but there seems to be less potential for issues if Patreon ceased to exist.
Like the name suggests this is inspired by the original idea of patronage where someone with money supported an artist just to do their work. The site’s model goes further than this by incorporating ideas from social media to help create communities of fans, letting them connect with the artist on a new level. Most fans donating will likely buy albums too so this becomes an additional rather than a replacement source of funding.
Personally I’m happy to just donate without rewards but I can see the added value in what many artists are offering. When I asked about the site on Twitter I received only positive feedback from fans and artists alike. For once this seems to be working for everyone.
The only problem with Patreon then is choosing how to spend your money if you are lucky enough to have some extra to give. There are hundreds of worthy artists all needing your help. My plan is to donate a certain amount of money each month and then rotate to new artists after six months. Some might prefer just to choose one favourite and give them as much as they can afford.
If you are looking for options here is a list of women in music who are currently using Patreon – all of whom have been featured on Highway Queens in the past. Click below to help support the future of music:
Olivia Ellen Lloyd describes her sound as ‘country music with feelings’, embracing the traditional, original intent of the genre before it got hijacked by pop music production and lyrics devoid of any kind of meaning beyond beer, trucks and saying the word ‘girl’ repeatedly. Originally from West Virginia and now based in Brooklyn, her new album Loose Cannon is a collection of brilliant sounding songs which deal thoughtfully with themes of loss, identity and sorrow. Continue reading “Album Review: Olivia Ellen Lloyd – Loose Cannon”