Dolly Parton’s Discography: Precious Memories (1999)

In her memoir ‘Pilgrimage to Dollywood’ writer Helen Morales sums up the appeal of Dolly’s theme park concluding that it ‘has taken elements of America and distilled them into their essences: God, family, patriotic pride, country, nature, memory and optimism.’* Here we also find a perfect list to sum up the values of Dolly herself which have allowed her to maintain a strong core fan base in America’s rural and conservative heartlands despite her concurrent foray into glitz, glamour, Hollywood, pop music, cosmetic augmentation and progressive causes.

And so this album Precious Memories is one designed for her heartland base and in fact could only be purchased at Dollywood itself, with all proceeds going to the Dollywood foundation (it can be heard on YouTube for those who have not made the trek to Tennessee). Consisting of spirituals the album follows The Golden Streets of Glory as her second full gospel collection. Musically the production has a similar traditional tone to her bluegrass trilogy, which she would record immediately following this album. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Precious Memories (1999)”

Album Review: Lucy Dacus – Home Video

I once heard about a comedy night where people read out their teenage diaries verbatim, finding humour in the shared horror, innocence and stupidity of youth. The event seemed to tap into that instinct we have to laugh at our younger selves, while also letting us envy the openness which only teenagers have. Lucy Dacus’s new album Home Video draws heavily on her own teenage journals and the title refers to her rewatching childhood videos. By looking at the past her music draws power in the universality of life’s specific memories. Continue reading “Album Review: Lucy Dacus – Home Video”

Album Review – Amythyst Kiah – Wary + Strange

A few years back I was lucky to see Amythyst Kiah play at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues festival where she wowed the crowd with her impressive banjo skills, distinctive voice and engaging stories. Her collaboration with Our Native Daughters was one of my favourite albums of the last few years and Kiah gained a richly deserved Grammy nomination for Black Myself, her brilliant contribution to that outstanding project. She follows that up with this powerful new album Wary + Strange, produced by Tony Berg.

Continue reading “Album Review – Amythyst Kiah – Wary + Strange”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Grass is Blue (1999)

‘I had to get rich so I could sing like I was poor,’ Dolly famously joked about ‘The Grass is Blue’ released in 1999. While Dolly had the mountains in her veins and her voice from the start, there was always a sprinkling of razzle dazzle pop rhinestones on her country banjo. Traditional bluegrass may have influenced her songwriting but this would be her first full length embrace of the genre, earning a Grammy for ‘Best Bluegrass Album’. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Grass is Blue (1999)”

Album Review- Allison Russell – Outside Child

After the success of the Our Native Daughters project Allison Russell made the decision to release music under her own name for the first time. Outside Child is a personal and intimate project which Allison describes as being about ‘resilience, survival, transcendence, the redemptive power of art, community, connection and chosen family’. Many of the songs were written in response to her childhood trauma and by singing her wounds she finds healing and catharsis. Continue reading “Album Review- Allison Russell – Outside Child”

Album Review: Natalia Lafourcade – Un Canto por Mexico Vol. 2

Natalia Lafourcade’s Musas albums brought the history of Latin folk music to life for modern audiences and she continued to explore her roots on last year’s Un Canto Por La Mexico Vol 1. That album was a collective celebration, which included many guest artists and reworkings of her old songs. It went on to win three Latin Grammys as well as the overall Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Album. The second volume of the project continues her collaborations with many modern artists of Latin music, who together celebrate the greatest hits of her musical culture. Continue reading “Album Review: Natalia Lafourcade – Un Canto por Mexico Vol. 2”

Album Review: Charlie Marie – Ramble On

On Charlie Marie’s 2019 EP she sang about how ‘everywhere’s got a countryside’, channeling Patsy Cline and gathering some well deserved online buzz. Due to the pandemic it has taken a couple of years for her to release this debut album but it is more than worth the wait. Ramble On is a welcome journey through the classic country sound with lots of witty wordplay. Continue reading “Album Review: Charlie Marie – Ramble On”

Album Review: Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi – They’re Calling Me Home

Back in another lifetime when live music still existed I was lucky enough to see Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi play on a cold winter evening in Edinburgh. Despite being in a large concert hall the show was intimate, brooding, frenetic, inspiring.

What was also apparent was the deep connection between the couple, musically and personally – they came from different countries, different worlds and yet they seemed like two halves of one whole. The duo’s previous album ‘there is no Other’ used folk music to show the dangers of a world where discrimination and hatred grow, but it was also about how finding a home in this world can be a devastating struggle for so many. Strange then that coronavirus would soon afterwards force us all to stay in one place, to have a reckoning with what home really means.

During the pandemic the power of music to bring comfort and bridge barriers of time and space became even more important and resulted in this new album They’re Calling Me Home. Continue reading “Album Review: Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi – They’re Calling Me Home”

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