The final song on Waxahatchee’s last album gave us some clues as to the next direction her music might take. Fade was an introspective, acoustic track that felt like a quiet sonic reset after the blistering indie rock on the rest of Out in the Storm, while lyrically it explored her internal struggle to assert her identity in a toxic relationship. On Saint Cloud we thankfully find her in a much better place – being newly sober and in love. Musically too she embraces a breezier Americana sound, evoking early Lucinda Williams, her songwriting hero. Continue reading “Album Review: Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud”
A while ago I had an idea for a short story set in a post-apocalyptic world where recorded music was lost and live music was banned. Two sisters, with voices from heaven, travelled the country secretly playing shows for people despite the fact that a deadly airborne disease could strike them all down at any moment. Every night people risked their lives just to hear the music.
Unfortunately I never ended up writing that story because it seemed kind of far-fetched and I couldn’t think of an ending. Now a few weeks into this pandemic I am wondering if such depressing dystopian visions were closer to reality than we could ever have imagined.
Despite some artists optimistically rebooking shows for later in the year, I think we all have to consider the possibility that there will be no live music concerts for a very long time. At the very least it will be months not weeks, and some form of social distancing may need to be in place right up until the end of this outbreak, which could be over a year. I sincerely hope I’m wrong. But right now it just doesn’t seem plausible that travel and mass gatherings will happen when there is still such a potential risk to lives. Continue reading “How to Survive in a World Without Live Music”
“I’m commericalminded. If I can’t get my own hit, I’m not too proud to hang on somebody else’s coattails,’ said Dolly in a revealing interview she conducted in the mid-90s. Therefore working with platinum king Kenny Rogers, who she called ‘a magical man’ was a no-brainer. Together they would have a pop smash with Islands in the Stream, a successful Christmas album released in 1984, and a country chart topper with the title track of this 1985 album. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Real Love (1985)”
During my period of working from home in the last week there has been one blessing: even more time to immerse myself in new music. One artist who I found a particularly comfort to get me through my email hell was the lovely Sunny Ozell and her gorgeous new album Overnight Lows. Continue reading “Album Review: Sunny Ozell – Overnight Lows”
At this moment in history we are all searching for some comfort, some hope to get us through another day. New Zealand singer songwriter Nadia Reid recently spoke about her new album and the power of music explaining, “A lot of the world can appear so sad at times but on the other hand, life is so tender and beautiful; art, music, and nature become our balm. Watching people sing and dance heals me. Walking in the hills heals me. I feel privileged to be a part of that healing.” And yes Out of My Province is indeed a healing listen – it’s a glorious sounding, rich-hearted record about finding your place in this ever spinning world. Continue reading “Album Review: Nadia Reid – Out of My Province”
Writing music reviews is my hobby, my escape from the real world. This past week has been so utterly surreal I have barely been able to do anything but stare aghast as the global coronavirus horror unfolded. The online chatter faded into insignificance for me and I haven’t been able to follow the music community in the same way really at all. I admire those who have been able to review albums, tweet, live-stream, share links, buy merch, help artists etc but I have spent most of my time frozen in shock and disbelief.
Before the virus hit I had been spending a considerable amount of time listening to the new album 25 Trips from mandolinist Sierra Hull. I was working though some ideas for my review, thinking about the central idea of this record: time and its grip on us all. Now time has the world in a vice. How long will this be our new reality? How long might it be until we all stand in a room together and hear live music again? How long before we get back the simple things we used to take for granted? We can’t go forward and see the future, we can only let the world spin and wait for our fate to unravel. Continue reading “Album Review: Sierra Hull – 25 Trips”
The truth is none of us are really ready for the big moments. We don’t ask for our lives to change. But they do. So what are we? Helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come, you can’t help that. It’s what you do after them that counts. That’s how you find out who you really are.
So yes this coronavirus outbreak has involved me just obsessively listening to music and watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (fans may recognise the reference in the introduction). That’s who I am. That’s what has got me through one of the craziest weeks in world history (and I’ve seen some serious shit). All I can say is thank god for Brandy Clark and this new album Your Life is a Record because otherwise I think I would have just submerged myself in a bath of hand sanitiser and refused to come out (well I would have if I actually had any). Continue reading “Album Review: Brandy Clark – Your Life is a Record”
‘Why won’t you listen?’ asks Kyshona Armstrong on the title track of her powerful new album. She asks everyone the question, sounding weary at how society is to deaf to the needs of others. The album’s purpose was inspired partly by her background as a music therapist working with vulnerable people. Musically her mix of gospel, blues, soul and folk (let’s just call it Americana) fits perfectly with her message of inclusivity, empathy and acceptance. Continue reading “Album Review: Kyshona – Listen”
Last year Brittany Howard stepped away from her band Alabama Shakes and went out on her own, releasing the album Jaime to widespread critical acclaim. After a triumphant performance as part of the BBC 6 music festival in London she stopped off in Glasgow to play a stunning sold out show at the Old Fruitmarket. Continue reading “Live Review: Brittany Howard @ The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow”