Live Review: Lucinda Williams @ Celtic Connections 23/01/2023

‘I can still sing,’ Lucinda Williams said on stage during her show on Monday night, a defiant reminder that despite a stroke she still has her voice. As a singer and lyricist she’s always turned the broken and fragile parts of her life into songs, and they felt even more vital and powerful after all she’s been through to get back on tour again.

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Live Review: Sierra Hull & Rachel Baiman @ Celtic Connections

On a freezing January evening there is nothing more restoring to the soul and the spirit than a night of brilliant music, courtesy of the wonderful Celtic Connections festival. Returning to Glasgow after many covid postponements Sierra Hull and Rachel Baiman brought the best of Nashville musicianship to Scottish shores and were greeted warmly by a sold-out and appreciative crowd of folk music lovers.

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What I’ve Learned From Listening to Every Dolly Parton Album

I started my project to listen to all of Dolly’s albums in 2018 and I admit it took me much longer to finish this than I had anticipated. When you grow up with an artist and listen along to them, it’s much easier to connect and put their work in context than trying to listen to everything all at once. Many of Dolly’s albums are tied to particular eras in time and music history, which were pretty alien and musically discombobulating to return to.

What I did learn about her music and her life might already be obvious to others, but I thought I would share some of my conclusions here about what Dolly’s music can teach us about how to live a good life.

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Every Dolly Parton Solo Album Ranked!

Listening to every Dolly solo album in order was a mammoth task and one which offers me some insight into the quality of her work over the last few decades.

Ranking albums is a fun task for music nerds like myself, and I began by splitting the albums into four categories: excellent, good, average, terrible. After that I went back to read my reviews (linked below) and listened again to determine which order I think best reflects the quality of Dolly’s work and my own personal favourites.

I chose the number one album because I think it best encapsulates everything Dolly has to offer: country, pop, bluegrass, classic songwriting, and above all else personality.

I have excluded soundtrack albums, her Christmas albums, the Dollywood only album and her children’s album, making a total of 44 albums to rank.

Read on and let me know your favourite Dolly album in the comments!

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Dolly’s Discography – Pure & Simple (2016)

‘Pure & Simple’ is an album dedicated to Dolly’s mysterious husband Carl Dean, a man who has kept himself out of the spotlight for her entire career. The songs Dolly has written about him in the past include ‘Jolene’ and ‘Just Because I’m A Woman’, neither of which paint him in an entirely flattering light. To do an album of love songs in the year they renewed their vows is a tribute to the longevity of their marriage, while also offering Dolly something different in terms of theme at this point in her career.

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Dolly Parton’s Discography: Blue Smoke (2014)

A couple of years back I made a running playlist of Dolly Parton songs, my favourite of which is the title track from this album ‘Blue Smoke’. My running route included quite a large hill and so this song would usually come on just at the point I was ‘climbin’ up the mountain’ and I found it always gave me the motivation I needed to keep going. The tune is one of Dolly’s most underrated songs, about leaving behind your old life and never looking back. A simple bluegrass arrangement that suits Dolly so well and one of her catchiest melodies – so catchy that the Glastonbury crowd picked it up almost instantly despite it being unfamiliar to most of them when she played it there.

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Albums of the Year 2022

The albums I have had a chance to write about in 2022 have all stood out to me on first listen and encouraged me to return again and again.

For my end of year list I have stuck to the previous format of only listing albums which have already been written about on the blog, with links below to my prior reviews. Therefore I have kept my list to ten albums, which means an unfortunate lack of diversity – this is entirely a fault of my own listening habits this year and something I hope to rectify going into 2023!

Let me know your favourites in the comments or on social media.

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Songs of the Year 2022

Yes it’s that time of year again when we all look back across a year in music to think about what songs we played to death, what songs stood out from the many heard and what songs really defined the moments of your life.

Find mine below. I have not had as much time to write this year so I have included some tracks which come from albums I have not had the chance to review. Let me know your favourites!

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Celtic Connections 2023 Preview

If you’re looking for some Christmas gifts this year then one glance through the Celtic Connections schedule will leave you overwhelmed by choice. Last year Omicron decimated the usually strong Americana programme, leaving only a few overseas artists playing the funded Transatlantic Sessions. Thankfully this year they have been able to return to a more normal looking schedule, with the festival celebrating its 30th year and offering a diverse array of artists across genres for every kind of roots music fan.

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