When The Staple Singers started out in the sixties they had a simple mission, as outlined by Pops himself: ‘We want to sing about what’s happening in the world today, and if it’s something bad, we want to sing a song to try to fix it.” Fast forward fifty years and the world is as broken as ever. You’d forgive Mavis Staples if she was disillusioned with the mission. As she says ‘lately, things are looking worse than they have ever looked.’ And yet, as she sings on this album, there’s no time for crying. If All I Was Was Black is an album concerned with bringing harmony and hope back to the poor huddled masses. Continue reading “Album Review: Mavis Staples – If All I Was Was Black”
When faced with the over produced world of modern music, sometimes you crave songs that breathe, float and don’t batter the listener into submission. Recorded in Nashville and produced by Johnny Duke, April Fool by Sara Rachele is a suitably sparse and fragile collection, full of echoing empty spaces which emphasise the emotional depth of the vocals. Continue reading “Album Review: Sara Rachele – April Fool”
On the cover of A Pocket of Wind Resistance Karine Polwart’s profile merges with images of the natural world: birds, trees, leaves seem to be a part of her just like brain, blood and bone. Together with Pippa Murphy’s spellbinding soundscapes she has produced a hymn to motherhood, nature, life and death. A companion piece to her one woman theatre show Wind Resistance, to call this work an ‘album’ barely scratches the surface of the ambition of its songs, stories, poetry and politics. This is a piece of compelling conceptual art. Continue reading “Album Review : Karine Polwart with Pippa Murphy – A Pocket Of Wind Resistance”
It’s shite being Scottish, especially in winter when it’s dark by four o’clock, the streets freeze over and everyone is in a worse mood than usual. Thankfully we have the new album from The Just Joans, the self proclaimed ‘laziest band in Scotland’, to brighten up the dreich days and nichts. Modern life might be rubbish but You Might Be Smiling Now… finds glitter in the gutters of Glasgow. Continue reading “Album Review: The Just Joans – You Might Be Smiling Now…”
Steph Cameron hails from Saskatoon, the same Canadian town as Joni Mitchell, she’s been a busker living on the streets and her debut album was called ‘Sad-Eyed Lonesome Lady.’ So far, so perfect. ‘Daybreak Over Jackson Street’ lives up to expectations, proving that honest hearted folk songs can be a powerful force for good in the world. Continue reading “Album Review: Steph Cameron – Daybreak Over Jackson Street”
Australian singer Lo Carmen recorded her sixth album Lovers Dreamers Fighters in the Butcher Shoppe studio in Nashville, working with David ‘Ferg’ Ferguson (who has also recently engineered Sturgill Simpson’s album). Together with a host of fantastic musicians including Dave Roe, Matt Combs, Russ Pahl plus guests Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Emma Swift she has created one of the most distinctive Americana albums of the year. Continue reading “Album Review: Lo Carmen – Lovers Dreamers Fighters”
Gwen Sebastian is one of those talented singers who has been quietly working hard in the music business for years. She has released solo albums, appeared on The Voice and can now be heard singing as part of Miranda Lambert’s band. Being the backing singer pays the bills but Once Upon A Time in the West: Act 1 proves that Gwen deserves a chance to stand centre circle and be heard on her own merits.
To lose Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley in the same year was a cruel and crushing blow to music. Sharon died from cancer one year ago today, having suffered from the illness for many years. Recorded during the last year of Sharon’s life, the new album Soul of a Woman is a testament to her indefatigable spirit. You won’t find her wallowing in misery or contemplating impending death, what the album does is subtly blend bombastic soul and gospel harmonies with quieter moments exploring life and love.
Classic guitar/bass/drums rock music might be dead right now but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to kick the corpse a little – you might not being it back to life but maybe an army of angry zombies will wake up and try to kill Ed Sheeran or something. Step forward Canada’s Weaves to have a go at the revival, combining influences like Springsteen, REM, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Slits and maybe even Americana. Wide Open is an impressive album, exploring love and identity in a world gone mad. Continue reading “Album Review: Weaves – Wide Open”