Album Review: Ashley Monroe – Sparrow

Ashley Monroe has always been somewhat of an outlier in Nashville – too glamorous for country rock, too understated for pop country and probably just a little too mainstream to be alternative Americana. So on Sparrow, produced by Dave Cobb, she steps away from trends and embraces a new vision for her music. Lush orchestral soundscapes sweep across Sparrow, creating a sheen of stylish sophistication rarely seen in modern country music. Continue reading “Album Review: Ashley Monroe – Sparrow”

Album Review: Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton John

Last year Juliana Hatfield released the bruising and brilliant album Pussycat (read my review here), exploring the bitter realities of the world right now. The only light relief on the album was the song Sunny Somewhere which dreamed of escaping to a happier place. Juliana ended up finding that paradise by retreating into the music of her childhood hero, Olivia Newton John and after seeing her in concert she decided to record a tribute album. This collection is a pure celebration of the joy of pop music, a love letter from one incredible woman to another. Continue reading “Album Review: Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton John”

Album Review: Faustina Masigat – Faustina Masigat

On her self-titled debut album Portland’s Faustina Masigat works with only minimal instrumentation – an old beat up guitar, pedal steel, some strings. Such choices might suggest this is going to be a starkly sad record but instead there’s unexpected light in her vocal delivery. Each song breathes slowly, letting a hush fall so you have to stop, move your ear a little closer and really listen to this captivating performer. Continue reading “Album Review: Faustina Masigat – Faustina Masigat”

Album Review: Kylie – Golden

As a kid growing up in the 80s Kylie was my first musical love. I had all her tapes and spent many an hour dancing round the kitchen to her hits. Even as I became a 90s teen who listened to indie music Kylie came with me, releasing Confide in Me and then working with my favourite band Manic Street Preachers on her hugely underrated album Impossible Princess. When she went back to pop and had even more stratospheric success I couldn’t help but still love her and follow her career. So it feels strangely fitting that she has released the country-inspired album Golden now when I write a blog covering country music. Our stars always seem to align.

Continue reading “Album Review: Kylie – Golden”

Album Review: Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – Years

So I was trying to write a punchy little introduction to this review that explained how Sarah Shook & The Disarmers’ new album Years is full of personality and brutal truths in the best outlaw country tradition, but then I realised that I had to start with one simple point: you need to buy this right away. Scroll to the end of this page and click the link. Go on now. Part with your cash and fund this band’s future because it’s a tough life out there for working class musicians and they need our support more than ever. If you’ve already got it then that’s awesome, well done. So with that sorted let me explain why this is one of my favourite albums of the year so far. Continue reading “Album Review: Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – Years”

Album Review: Ashley McBryde – Girl Going Nowhere

Any woman being signed to a major Nashville record label is positive progress for the genre, especially when they are a talented songwriter like Arkansas native Ashley McBryde. Her single ‘A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega’ has even begun to slowly move upwards on the country charts, which really is something to celebrate in this current climate of bro country dominating the genre. McBryde has supported Miranda Lambert and worked with Eric Church, both of whom understand how to sell quality music to the masses, in the face of the trend towards pop country. Her new album ‘Girl Going Nowhere’ follows in their country rock footsteps, showcasing her powerful vocals and classic songwriting style. Continue reading “Album Review: Ashley McBryde – Girl Going Nowhere”

Album Review: Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour

The clear blue sky on the cover of the new album from Kacey Musgraves signals a bright and hopeful new beginning both musically and personally. After getting married last year Kacey naturally began to write more love songs, leaving behind the wry humour of her previous albums. The songs on Golden Hour are quietly introspective, creating a comfortable hazy bliss to get lost in. Continue reading “Album Review: Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour”

Album Review: Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain

In his famous commencement speech to Syracuse University writer George Saunders said, ‘As a goal in life you could do worse than: try to be kinder.’ Of course, he explained, kindness can be hard. We are inherently selfish beings. But if you fail to be kind to others your life will be filled with regret. Such truths form the central theme to the new record ‘May Your Kindness Remain’ by Courtney Marie Andrews. Drawing on gospel and soul influences these beautiful songs could lift the hate from even the coldest heart. Continue reading “Album Review: Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain”

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