Released in 1979 Great Balls of Fire is right in the middle of Dolly’s mainstream pop phase. She aims for the charts but ironically it is one of the few albums from this era without any real classic career-defining songs. It’s a continuation of her previous run of big budget albums but with ever diminishing returns you feel she’s stretching this seventies pop style to its limits. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Great Balls of Fire (1979)”
After the platinum crossover smash success of ‘Here You Come Again’, Dolly decided to stick closely to that pop formula for her follow up album ‘Heartbreaker’, released July 1978. She was now being managed by Sandy Gallin, introduced to her by Mac Davis, and he again teamed her up with pop producers Charles Koppleman and Gary Klein. Dolly also received a production credit, showing how she was taking back control of her own career in the wake of her split with Porter. Another fact worth noting is that 1978 was the first year since 1967 where Dolly only released one album. The insane songwriting productivity and release schedule of the Porter Wagoner years was well and truly over. In the end Dolly didn’t need more than one album since Heartbreaker dominated the country charts, staying at number one for nine consecutive weeks. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Heartbreaker (1978)”
In 2018 I have reviewed nearly seventy albums and listened to many more. The albums I have chosen to review have all connected with me for different reasons, so picking a favourites list feels strange and almost cruel to those I have left out. And yet such a 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 thirty favourite albums of the year for this list. I have based my choices on a combination of gut instinct and how often I listened to an album. Be aware that my mood changes so much that anything beyond the top four albums might have changed order if I wrote this tomorrow.
This list includes links to my original album reviews, rather than risk repeating myself. Please let me know your favourites in the comments.
Last year Atlanta based band The Whiskey Gentry released a great album of witty country songs called Dead Ringer and now their front-woman Lauren Morrow is stepping out solo with this superb self-titled EP. Lauren has recently moved to Nashville and the four songs featured on the EP were recorded at the Creative Workshop studio, produced by Parker Cason. Continue reading “EP Review: Lauren Morrow”
On the startling front cover of her new album, Neko Case’s head is covered in cigarettes and she starting to catch fire. It is somewhat alarming on first inspection, especially considering her house actually burnt down recently, but maybe using the violent imagery is her way of accepting such an unlucky fate. Hellion is a word for a rowdy or mischievous person and you feel that spirit and don’t give a fuck energy radiating out of her very core. Hell-On was mostly recorded before the fire so don’t except songs to directly reference that incident but Case has always made art out of life’s disasters and these songs continue in that vein. Produced by Neko herself, with Bjorn Yttling, this album offers no simple narrative and makes no concessions to genre or trends. Because of this sense of originality, Hell-On feels like a vital addition to her already impressive discography. Continue reading “Album Review: Neko Case – Hell-On”
‘Book Week Scotland’ might not mean a lot to many people beyond bonnie Caledonia but this campaign to promote reading gives me a nice excuse to write about the myriad connections between my two favourite things: books and music. My first post was about songs inspired by female writers and today I’m going to recommend some of my favourite books about music written by women. Continue reading “Books About Music Written By Women”
One of my favourite ways to find new music is to see who some of my favourite artists are working or touring with. So when I reviewed Lizzie No’s album earlier this year I also discovered her friend and fellow musician Caroline Reese, who writes the kind of gorgeous indie alt-country songs they call Americana nowadays. Caroline has opened for artists like Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Her new E.P. Two Horses consists of four stripped back new songs which tell the story of her recent move to Montana and her life as a struggling musician. Continue reading “E.P. Review: Caroline Reese – Two Horses “
Navigating the infinite shows on offer during Edinburgh festival season can be an overwhelming task. Look past the ubiquitous comedy on offer and you will find an array of interesting music-themed events. So here are some suggestions for you, with our usual focus on female performers. All of these shows have tickets available at time of writing.
The book festival can be an oasis of calm in the city during August (especially in the evenings). Novelist David Mitchell is curating a series of music themed events at this year’s festival, including an event with the wonderful English folk duo The Unthanks who will be discussing and performing work from their recent album of music inspired by the poems and songs of Molly Drake (which I reviewed earlier this year).
In the wave of shows available local performers can sometimes be forgotten but there is a wide variety of Scottish folk and traditional music on offer. Appearing at the Queen’s Hall is Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, most famous now for singing the songs from Brave (also if you missed Karine Polwart’s show at the same venue she is reprising Wind Resistance later in the year). Iona Fyfe, a folk ballad singer from Aberdeenshire, who has been a finalist in BBC Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year is also appearing at the festival.
If you are looking for something a little more alternative then Summerhall continues to deliver a cutting edge program of music events under the banner Nothing Ever Happens Here. Appearing across the month include Spanish indie girls Hinds, plus singer songwriters Julie Byrne and Jenny Hval.
In terms of theatre and comedy there are always shows themed around specific musicians, such as the Joni Mitchell Story or the excellent Doris, Dolly and the Dressing Room Divas. And the Fringe wouldn’t be the Fringe if you didn’t go and see something a little bit different and Dollywould appears to fit the bill nicely.
And since we love country music on this blog I feel it’s only right to finish by recommending Reformed Whores: Grand Ole C*ntry for the title and outfits alone.
If you have a spare fifteen minutes (or a few hours) I can think of no better way to spend it than listening to some of the best musicians playing NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert. These sessions are now legendary, breaking new artists as well as bringing in those at the top for a more intimate performance.
Of course there are so many now it can be hard to find the time to search through them, let alone watch them all so I have picked ten great ones for your viewing pleasure (and to be honest I’m partly making this list for myself so it’s easy to find the links) Enjoy! Continue reading “Ten Awesome Tiny Desk Concerts”