On Album Covers, Judgement and Objectification

Jenny Lewis’s new album has a striking cover picture of her wearing a cut out dress. The image was a glamorous twin of her cover for previous album ‘The Voyager’. On that album she had worn a rainbow suit inspired by Gram Parsons and the headless shot focused all our attention on that outfit. The ‘On The Line’ cover is almost an identical shot but this time Jenny is in a satin jumpsuit, her hair styled and her cleavage exposed. Those in the know connected the images together and understood that the new album cover was a metaphor for Jenny freeing herself from the past, glamming up in response to all the dark times she had gone through. Later she acknowledged the image was also in honour of her late mother, a Vegas lounge singer who wore similar stage outfits designed by Bob Mackie and who had a mole in the exact same spot on her chest. Continue reading “On Album Covers, Judgement and Objectification”

Album Review: Lucy Rose – No Words Left

In a recent revelatory interview Lucy Rose painfully recounted her experience of touring as an opening act. Her quiet and sad songs were routinely talked over every night, she was even booed when she introduced one as ‘feminist’. Feeling utterly miserable she decided to quit after a week. Life as a support act wasn’t worth the money if it destroyed your soul. She concluded she would rather play to 20 people who cared than 1000 who didn’t.

There’s such bravery in that decision which you can only applaud. I mean it would be great if talented people like Lucy were the headliners of big tours where everyone shut up and listened to the songs but that is unfortunately just dreamland. Artists have to work hard to seek out their audiences and for women in folk/indie music these are usually small, niche crowds.

Lucy’s last album ‘Something’s Changing’ was the first she had released away from a major label and it was the start of her real blossoming as an artist. It was a good album but there were moments where it felt like she was searching for her true self and sound. On her new album No Words Left she has turned inwards and the results are the strongest, and starkest, songs of her career. Continue reading “Album Review: Lucy Rose – No Words Left”

Album Review: Jenny Lewis – On The Line

A few weeks back I listened to Zane Lowe interview Jenny Lewis about her new album On The Line – an interview in which he spent most of the time discussing the men featured on this record, rather than Jenny herself. Even after everything Jenny Lewis had achieved she was still being considered in terms of who she was working with, rather than on her own merits. The recent revelations about one of the producers of this record have threatened to further overshadow this release. So it is pretty wonderful to report that most of the reviews and features written about On The Line have focused on Jenny’s music, life and legacy (unsurprisingly most of these have been written by women).

The fact that Jenny’s music has been so universally celebrated is important. Not every women artist gets that recognition and attention. What then can the humble blogger really contribute to this discussion you might wonder, when there are so many incisive and illuminating discussions of this album already out there? To be honest I have spent the last week wondering the same thing myself. I recently reviewed the new album by The Wild Reeds (whose music owes a debt to Jenny for sure) and I felt confident that it was important I wrote about an album that had received few other online reviews. In contrast there doesn’t seem much more I can add to the already determined facts about On The Line: this is indeed a brilliant album and some of the best work of Jenny’s career. But then I heard Jenny’s voice singing to me ‘do something, while your heart is thumping’ so I decided just to write anyway. Continue reading “Album Review: Jenny Lewis – On The Line”

Album Review: The Wild Reeds – Cheers

The Wild Reeds released one of my favourites songs of 2017 – an ode to how music can save your life. The three voices and songwriters which make up the band are Kinsey Lee, Mackenzie Howe and Sharon Silva, all of whom understand how to convey a special kind of melancholic euphoria. Their terrific new album Cheers continues in this same vein, exploring anxiety, illness and how to cope with the crushing reality of life. Continue reading “Album Review: The Wild Reeds – Cheers”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Here You Come Again (1977)

In the middle of the eternal debate about what defines the country music genre it’s interesting to consider some of these late seventies Dolly Parton albums. She aimed for the pop market but hoped to keep her country fanbase happy too. By 1977 Dolly was on her twentieth solo album in ten years. She’d written every style of country song you could think of. Pop music was limitless in a way that country music could never be – sonically and commercially. Dolly wanted the same success as Elvis or Elton John – not just an occasional cross over from the country charts. Jolene proved she could take country with her over to the mainstream and on Here You Come Again she again attempted to find a place in both worlds. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Here You Come Again (1977)”

Album Review: Potty Mouth – Snafu

Rock music is dead they say, and one glance at the charts or a festival lineup might lead you to believe the same thing. Funny that when I look for a rock album to listen to I can always find loads of good stuff, usually sung by women – from Honeyblood to Bully to Lucy Dacus to this new album SNAFU from alternative punk pop queens Potty Mouth. Rock music is alive and it still sounds fucking great. Continue reading “Album Review: Potty Mouth – Snafu”

Album Review: Maren Morris – Girl

If being ‘country’ is about where you’re from and how you sing then Maren Morris has a Texan twang which should be perfect the genre. Her debut single My Church promised much – here was a singer who could sell authentic sounding country pop in a radio-friendly way. When her debut album was released it divided critics, some of whom were disappointed by the more pop leanings of the rest of her music. Those who were less concerned with genre heard a confident young singer with a talent for catchy hooks, who has since managed to find herself a place on country radio despite the odds against women succeeding in that notoriously male-dominated format.

Her second album Girl comes after recent Grammy nominations in both the country and pop categories. The traditionalists will find little to get behind here, but those predicting a full jump to EDM after her crossover guest spot on Zedd’s ‘The Middle’ are wrong. Morris forges her own path with an appealing blend of country, pop and r’n’b. Continue reading “Album Review: Maren Morris – Girl”

Live Review: Country to Country Festival, Glasgow 08/03/2019

It was a typically grey day in Glasgow but the Hydro was lit up in red, white and blue for the arrival of Nashville’s best for Country to Country festival. Now in its fourth full year in Scotland the event continues to grow in popularity (it certainly seemed to be busier than the equivalent Friday last year). This first night kicked off with some of the genre’s more traditional artists including Chris Stapleton, Lyle Lovett, Ashley McBryde and Drake White & The Big Fire. Continue reading “Live Review: Country to Country Festival, Glasgow 08/03/2019”

Album Review: Adia Victoria – Silences

In her book Black Pearls, Daphne Duval Harrison identified the key themes of the blues genre, which included: death, Hell, injustice, love, men, murder, poverty, sadness, the supernatural, traveling, weariness, depression and disillusionment. On her second album Adia Victoria explores many of these ideas, filling the Silences with sometimes troubling but always intriguing music. For an artist like Victoria, the blues is not just history to be studied or a style to be replicated – it is the very lifeblood that simmers inside of her. Continue reading “Album Review: Adia Victoria – Silences”

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