Album Review: Lori McKenna – The Tree

Trees have long spoken to the souls of poets. Walt Whitman called them ‘palpably artistic, heroic’. Herman Hesse believed ‘Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.’ Marianne Moore once wrote a poem to save a tree’s life (it worked). Lori McKenna is a modern poet of American life so it is fitting to see her title her new album after those silent friends whose importance and beauty may sometimes go unnoticed. The Tree tell stories of the internal domestic lives and relationships of your average everyday people who have simple, quiet ambitions – the roots of which grow deep underground, much like these songs themselves. Continue reading “Album Review: Lori McKenna – The Tree”

Album Review: The War and Treaty – Healing Tide

Recently there has been much discussion about the definition of ‘Americana’ music and how the genre needs to be more inclusive of diverse voices beyond white male altcountry singers. Husband and wife duo The War & Treaty are therefore exactly what the Americana genre needs right now – combining gospel, soul, country, folk and blues to create a rootsy sound which references music history but makes it sound fresh again for the modern listener. Debut album Healing Tide is full of astonishing songs that speak to the heart of humanity, suggesting that a better, happier, more loving world is possible. Continue reading “Album Review: The War and Treaty – Healing Tide”

Album Review: Amanda Shires – To The Sunset

Amanda Shires’ music has always had a distinctive poetic vision and style that sets her apart from the average solo songwriters. On this new album To The Sunset she steps away from the acoustic sound of her last record to fully embrace the electric and unpredictable feel that was hinted at on some of her earlier releases. Working again with Americana super producer Dave Cobb these ten songs each feel like a vital progression of an artist who is reaching the pinnacle of her powers. Continue reading “Album Review: Amanda Shires – To The Sunset”

Music Book Club July – ‘From Cradle to Stage’ by Virginia Hanlon Grohl

Earlier this year when I was in the music section of the book shop I was disappointed to see only one book written by a woman. That spurred me on to starting this monthly book club, so I thought it would only be fitting then to review the one book which I saw on the shelf. From Cradle to Stage by Virginia Hanlon Grohl is not just the story of her son’s rise to fame but also an interesting and thought provoking project where she interviews and writes about the mothers of musicians such as Miranda Lambert, Haim, Michael Stipe and Kelly Clarkson. Continue reading “Music Book Club July – ‘From Cradle to Stage’ by Virginia Hanlon Grohl”

Album Review: Kendl Winter – Stumbler’s Business

To stumble is to almost make a mistake, to fall towards the wrong direction but save yourself just before it’s too late. In Stumbler’s Business, the new album by The Lowest Pair’s Kendl Winter, potential mistakes become moments of learning and growth. Musically the album is full of atmospheric banjo strumming which creates a dreamy folk sound. Continue reading “Album Review: Kendl Winter – Stumbler’s Business”

Live Review – Amythyst Kiah @ Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

Hailing from Johnson City, Tennessee Amythyst Kiah is a contemporary blues and folk singer, with a real connection to the history of Appalachian music. This was the second of her two shows at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues festival where she has successfully performed for the last three years. The audience in the Piccolo venue were treated to an evening of stories and songs from a troubadour of the highest quality. Continue reading “Live Review – Amythyst Kiah @ Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival”

Live Review: Queens Of the Blues @ Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

The summer months in Edinburgh are packed full of exciting cultural events and July’s highlight is always the diverse and interesting Jazz and Blues festival. This was actually the first year I’ve been able to attend and thankfully the programme offered a strong range of interesting women performing across the festival. What’s nice to see with curated festivals like this one is that the level of promotion and marketing ensures good turn outs and enthusiastic crowds.

My first show was ‘Queens of the Blues’, a homage to some of the best women of the genre performed by Edinburgh based Nicole Smit and her band. Despite the early afternoon slot the show was sold out and the packed crowd were eager to hear some blues classics. Continue reading “Live Review: Queens Of the Blues @ Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – “My Favourite Songwriter, Porter Wagoner”

Dolly’s tenth studio album released in 1972 was a tribute to her boss and mentor Porter Wagoner, who had also been acting as her uncredited producer and manager since she joined The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967. Dolly’s reasons for recording songs by Porter were outlined in the album notes: ‘Porter has performed many of the songs I have written since I have been associated with him, and it is a great pleasure for me to be able to do this album of his songs.’ My Favourite Songwriter, Porter Wagoner was Dolly’s way of honouring the man who had supported her songwriting and helped shape her career in so many ways. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – “My Favourite Songwriter, Porter Wagoner””

Thoughts on Rolling Stone’s ‘The 100 Greatest Songs of the Century’ List

A couple of weeks back Rolling Stone magazine published their list of the ‘100 Greatest Songs of the 21st Century’ and while these lists may seem arbitrary to some, I always find them a useful gauge of the state of the music industry as a whole. This blog aims to promote better representation for women in music so I thought I would analyse the list and see what conclusions could be drawn. Continue reading “Thoughts on Rolling Stone’s ‘The 100 Greatest Songs of the Century’ List”

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