Celtic Connections is the best traditional roots, folk and Americana festival in the world, offering a dazzling array of artists live on stage in Glasgow during January and February each year. What always impresses me about the festival is how well represented women are from across all of the main roots genres. Read on to find out my highlights from the festival, with a focus on the Americana offerings. Continue reading “Live Preview: Celtic Connections Festival 2020”
As we all trudge back to work this week, the hopefulness of the new year is already becoming a faint memory for most. But fear not music fans, we have much to look forward to in 2020. What’s an even sweeter thought is that you might not yet even know the artist who will be your favourite this time next year. With open ears and hearts we can’t lose.
Read on to find out more about the music I’m most looking forward to in 2020.
January is one of my favourite times of the year in the blogosphere. Firstly new releases are slow, so there’s actually time to breathe, as well as look back and think about the future in positive ways. I have a tendency towards cynical pessimism (well I’m Scottish – it’s in our DNA) and for me the new year helps me rise above that and brings hope in the possibilities of renewal, letting go and starting over. Resolutions don’t have to be about hating who you are or regretting what you’ve become – they can be about tiny changes and trying to achieve the things in life you want. Fail again, fail better. Continue reading “2020 Blog Resolutions”
End of year list season always feels so overwhelming for even the most ardent music fan like myself and that feeling was even worse this year with the stream of ‘end of the decade’ lists adding to the the deluge.
Yet as a nerdy fan I was intrigued to assess the last decade and what new music has resonated with me, how my music listening has changed over time and how the decade has shaped my current tastes. I didn’t want to just write a list and thanks to my use of Last Fm I was able to look back and reflect on my decade year by year. I am mainly writing this for myself, to try and understand how I ended up here writing this blog but if this post resonates with you then let me know your own thoughts about how the decade has shaped you as a music fan in the comments or on social media. Continue reading “Reflections on a Decade of Music Listening”
In 2019 I have reviewed nearly sixty albums and listened to many more. The albums I have chosen to review have all connected with me on some level so picking a favourites list feels almost cruel to those I have left out. This year I was also aware of how overwhelming such lists can be for fans too so I have written a more general albums of the year recommendation post for those searching for some musical self-care instead. Despite this I still think a ranking list is also a satisfying way to reflect on the year in music, as a writer and a fan.
In the end I have chosen twenty favourite albums of the year. I have based this list on a combination of gut instinct, critical perspective and how often I listened to the album but my mood changes so much that anything beyond the number one album might have changed order if I wrote this tomorrow.
This list only includes albums I have reviewed so obviously I don’t include any male artists and there are a few other albums I’ve enjoyed that I haven’t reviewed for various reasons but overall this is an accurate reflection of what I’ve enjoyed over the year. This list includes links to my original album reviews, rather than risk repeating myself. Let me know your favourites in the comments or on social media.
How a song goes from a casual listen to becoming part of your musical lifeblood is one of the mysteries and magic of being a music fan. Some achieve this status by being daily companions on the walk to work or in the evenings, others are tied to places, times, memories, emotions so much so that they feel like old friends you’ve known all your life.
Across the span of a year and hours of music listening certain songs just rise up and catch your attention with undeniable force. A few stand apart from the album they were released, others are linked to the wider collection of songs they come from. Therefore artists that rate highly on this list may be in lower places on my album list and vice versa.
So without further ado, here are the twenty songs that have laid claim to my heart in 2019. Continue reading “Songs of the Year 2019”
One of the benefits of running your own music blog is that you can choose what you write about. I generally don’t write entirely negative reviews and I aim to be a place of positivity and advocacy for good music by women. Despite that, I do think it’s important from a critical perspective to be honest about what you didn’t enjoy or what really disappointed you as a listener.
Firstly I’d like to point out the limitations of this post since there will be endless amounts of bad music out there that I just haven’t heard. I don’t listen to the radio (except 6music and specialist country music shows in the U.K.) so I don’t stumble across bad music that way. Sometimes though, thanks to streaming, I do try popular albums and songs out of curiosity and also give a few random things a listen. Inevitability, I don’t always like what I hear. Continue reading “Musical Lowlights of 2019”
After writing about the overwhelming paradox of choice that comes from the tidal wave of music released in 2019, I started thinking about how I could recommend some of my favourite albums of the year in a different way so that no one is sent into a tailspin of anxiety about what’s cool, what’s good or worrying about what you’ve missed out on.
We should never underestimate the importance of music as self-care. I believe it is vital in helping us to deal with this tumultuous, chaotic world. While I do still plan on writing traditional ranking end of year lists too, read on for recommendations as to how 2019’s best music can be used as serious self care. Continue reading “Recommended 2019 Albums for Serious Self-Care”
My mother once told me a story about visiting a library when she was a young girl. She walked in and immediately felt overwhelmed. Where did she even begin? Which of the thousands of books should she choose? Shelf after shelf, stack after stack the place was suffocating. She wandered around in a daze, left empty handed and didn’t return.
What she was suffering from is what philosopher Barry Schwartz calls the ‘paradox of choice’. Humans crave choices and the right to freedom but too much choice and the magnitude of the decision becomes paralysing and detrimental to our social and emotional wellbeing. The result is that we often fail to choose at all or go for the safe option and deeply regret our choices, adding more stress to the next time we have to decide.