The widescreen, windswept cover of ‘Big Time’ has Angel Olsen looking off towards the light, somewhere in the far distance. Fitting imagery for a collection of songs which move away from who she once was and embrace new love and a new outlook, after a turbulent time in her personal life.Continue reading “Album Review: Angel Olsen – Big Time “
Two years after My Echo, her vulnerable pre-divorce album Laura Veirs returns with a fresh start on Found Light. Her ex-husband & producer Tucker Martine is now gone from her music, and consequently you can hear an exhalation of sorts throughout the record.Continue reading “Album Review: Laura Veirs – Found Light”
Doesn’t everyone at some point dream of going back in time to their youth? Who wouldn’t want to experience life again without the crushing reality of adult human existence weighing us all down?
After the last eighteen months of coronavirus hell, I was craving such a moment. So when I saw the chance to get tickets to see two bands I had loved as a teenager – Britpop legends Sleeper and the Bluetones – it felt like a strange kind of serendipity. Restrictions had just been lifted in Scotland. I was double jagged and desperate to get some kind of normality back to my flatlined existence. Continue reading “Slight Return”
Hailing from West Virginia, Sierra Ferrell spent her youth busking across the States before moving to Nashville and signing to Rounder Records. She describes her sound as ‘past life’ music, which nicely encapsulates her mix of country, gypsy-jazz, folk and ragtime. Continue reading “Album Review: Sierra Ferrell – Long Time Coming”
This year has exposed the uncomfortable truth that many in the music industry are struggling to keep their heads above water both financially and emotionally. The pandemic has destroyed the touring eco-system and underlined the endemic issues caused by loss of income due to streaming.
Paradoxically the Internet which caused the collapse of physical record buying, could actually offer some useful solutions. Since lockdown began musicians have been diversifying into live-streaming and using their social media to connect with fans.
Platforms like Instagram and YouTube offer further opportunities but these may veer too close to asking musicians to become influencers or vloggers for some to be entirely comfortable. Selling out might be an outdated concept but there are still some limits. And while crowdfunding for individual projects has been helpful in the past, many have been burned by the Pledge Music scandal which left artists and fans out of pocket and suspicious of digital middle men.
In contrast the direct funding site Patreon seems to be much less of a risky endeavour. Artists ask for monthly donations in return for tiered rewards which are usually content based rather than linked to physical products – for example exclusive live-streams, q and as, discounts on merch, first opportunities to buy tickets for shows, written updates, cover songs, workshops, meet and greets etc. Some do offer physical products but there seems to be less potential for issues if Patreon ceased to exist.
Like the name suggests this is inspired by the original idea of patronage where someone with money supported an artist just to do their work. The site’s model goes further than this by incorporating ideas from social media to help create communities of fans, letting them connect with the artist on a new level. Most fans donating will likely buy albums too so this becomes an additional rather than a replacement source of funding.
Personally I’m happy to just donate without rewards but I can see the added value in what many artists are offering. When I asked about the site on Twitter I received only positive feedback from fans and artists alike. For once this seems to be working for everyone.
The only problem with Patreon then is choosing how to spend your money if you are lucky enough to have some extra to give. There are hundreds of worthy artists all needing your help. My plan is to donate a certain amount of money each month and then rotate to new artists after six months. Some might prefer just to choose one favourite and give them as much as they can afford.
If you are looking for options here is a list of women in music who are currently using Patreon – all of whom have been featured on Highway Queens in the past. Click below to help support the future of music:
In 2018 I started my project to review all of Dolly Parton’s solo discography in order of release. Here is the master list of links to all the reviews I have completed so far. This list will be updated as and when I complete the reviews! Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Album Reviews List”
In a recent interview, The Staves rallied against early expectations put upon them by the industry, who wanted the band of sisters to be ‘sad, frail girls with long wavy hair.’ On their new album ‘Good Woman’ they challenged themselves to expand their sonic horizons and free themselves from their pretty, polished past. Continue reading “Album Review: The Staves – Good Woman”
Apart from some initial delays and postponements, 2020 ended up feeling like any other year in the music calendar, albums wise anyway.
What we don’t know is how 2021 will play out. So far we have some releases scheduled but nowhere near as many big names as in previous years. You wonder if delaying until 2022 makes more sense for most especially in alternative, roots and Americana music which relies so much on touring to promote a record. At the same time independent artists may fear losing career momentum if they don’t release a record at all.
All we can do to counter some of these issues is to support the artists who do decide to release new music by buying their albums, merchandise and spreading the word to others.
So here are a selection of new albums I’m really excited to hear in 2021! Continue reading “Music to Look Forward to in 2021”
It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times. Yet even in the bleakest moments of this past year when the world went into forced hibernation, new music never stopped being a vital life force for good.
To those artists who continued to release albums and songs during a worldwide pandemic I am eternally in your debt. The depth of support that music has given me during such a tumultuous year can never be overstated. Continue reading “2020 Most Read Reviews”