Some albums reflect the times; others are a welcome escape. Pearl Charles’s new album ‘Magic Mirror’ is the latter – a disco ball swirling a little light through the darkness and gloom of the new year. Continue reading “Album Review: Pearl Charles – Magic Mirror”
Apart from some initial delays and postponements, 2020 ended up feeling like any other year in the music calendar, albums wise anyway.
What we don’t know is how 2021 will play out. So far we have some releases scheduled but nowhere near as many big names as in previous years. You wonder if delaying until 2022 makes more sense for most especially in alternative, roots and Americana music which relies so much on touring to promote a record. At the same time independent artists may fear losing career momentum if they don’t release a record at all.
All we can do to counter some of these issues is to support the artists who do decide to release new music by buying their albums, merchandise and spreading the word to others.
So here are a selection of new albums I’m really excited to hear in 2021! Continue reading “Music to Look Forward to in 2021”
Dolly released her third Christmas album last year to great success, even if the pandemic year was not the most opportune timing for an album full of Yuletide cheer. Her first Christmas album was Once Upon a Christmas – a fun collaboration with Kenny Rogers released in 1984. Home for Christmas released in 1990 is composed of Christmas standards, rather than the originals which made up half of her album with Kenny. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Home For Christmas (1990)”
Since I started my blog a few years back I have always begun the year with an overview of what my plans are for the year ahead. 2020’s list is pretty depressing looking back now, with my talk of live shows and improving the speed of my writing, both things which the pandemic managed to curtail.
So even though this year is hugely uncertain I think we can all benefit from a moment of reflection and positive planning. Here are some of my resolutions for the year ahead in music blogging. Continue reading “Blogging Resolutions for 2021”
In 2020 I have reviewed sixty albums/EPs and listened to many more. The albums I have chosen to review have all connected with me on some level, so picking a favourites list feels almost cruel to those I have left out. Despite this I still think a ranking list is also a satisfying way to reflect on the year in music, as a writer and a fan.
In the end I have chosen twenty favourite albums and the order was decided on a combination of time spent listening and gut instinct. Some of these artists did not appear on my favourite songs of the year as their albums work as a collective whole rather than having one individual brilliant song (and vice versa). For me that total immersion into an artist’s vision makes albums still my preferred way of listening to music.
Please note that this list only includes albums I have reviewed so there will be some omissions. This list includes links to my original album reviews, rather than risk repeating myself. Please let me know your favourites in the comments. Continue reading “Albums of the Year 2020”
In a year as strange and unsettling as 2020 the continuity of the new music release schedule kept me sane at times when normality felt far away.
As the year unfolded certain songs became constant companions and welcome friends. My choices are songs that got me personally through the year rather than any attempt to tell anyone what is ‘best’. All songs appeared on albums released in 2020 which have been reviewed on Highway Queens.
So without further ado, here are the twenty songs that have helped me endure 2020: Continue reading “Songs of the Year 2020”
It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times. Yet even in the bleakest moments of this past year when the world went into forced hibernation, new music never stopped being a vital life force for good.
To those artists who continued to release albums and songs during a worldwide pandemic I am eternally in your debt. The depth of support that music has given me during such a tumultuous year can never be overstated. Continue reading “2020 Most Read Reviews”
In her 1982 Christmas hit ‘Hard Candy Christmas’ Dolly sang of enduring a difficult time where she was ‘barely getting through’. That song with its message about not letting sorrow get you down feels like the realistic Christmas anthem we need for 2020.
In contrast A Holly Dolly Christmas, Dolly’s third Christmas album, is free from any hints of the pain and strife we’ve all endured this year. It’s a red bow and a sparkling smile, throwing glitter and sparkles at you throughout. Forget your troubles, come on be happy. Dolly’s current incarnation is a fairy godmother of joy, with not even a moment of despair allowed to darken the delights, even though she made her name on songs which cut to the heart of the bittersweet pain of real life. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: A Holly Dolly Christmas (2020)”
After her brilliant 2018 album America’s Child, blues singer Shemekia Copeland continues her blistering take on the state of her country with her new album Uncivil War. Working again with Will Kimbrough and her longtime collaborator John Hahn has resulted in a timely collection of protest songs about the way we live now. Continue reading “Album Review: Shemekia Copeland – Uncivil War”