Trees have long spoken to the souls of poets. Walt Whitman called them ‘palpably artistic, heroic’. Herman Hesse believed ‘Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.’ Marianne Moore once wrote a poem to save a tree’s life (it worked). Lori McKenna is a modern poet of American life so it is fitting to see her title her new album after those silent friends whose importance and beauty may sometimes go unnoticed. The Tree tell stories of the internal domestic lives and relationships of your average everyday people who have simple, quiet ambitions – the roots of which grow deep underground, much like these songs themselves. Continue reading “Album Review: Lori McKenna – The Tree”
Recently there has been much discussion about the definition of ‘Americana’ music and how the genre needs to be more inclusive of diverse voices beyond white male altcountry singers. Husband and wife duo The War & Treaty are therefore exactly what the Americana genre needs right now – combining gospel, soul, country, folk and blues to create a rootsy sound which references music history but makes it sound fresh again for the modern listener. Debut album Healing Tide is full of astonishing songs that speak to the heart of humanity, suggesting that a better, happier, more loving world is possible. Continue reading “Album Review: The War and Treaty – Healing Tide”
Amanda Shires’ music has always had a distinctive poetic vision and style that sets her apart from the average solo songwriters. On this new album To The Sunset she steps away from the acoustic sound of her last record to fully embrace the electric and unpredictable feel that was hinted at on some of her earlier releases. Working again with Americana super producer Dave Cobb these ten songs each feel like a vital progression of an artist who is reaching the pinnacle of her powers. Continue reading “Album Review: Amanda Shires – To The Sunset”
To stumble is to almost make a mistake, to fall towards the wrong direction but save yourself just before it’s too late. In Stumbler’s Business, the new album by The Lowest Pair’s Kendl Winter, potential mistakes become moments of learning and growth. Musically the album is full of atmospheric banjo strumming which creates a dreamy folk sound. Continue reading “Album Review: Kendl Winter – Stumbler’s Business”
Hailing from Johnson City, Tennessee Amythyst Kiah is a contemporary blues and folk singer, with a real connection to the history of Appalachian music. This was the second of her two shows at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues festival where she has successfully performed for the last three years. The audience in the Piccolo venue were treated to an evening of stories and songs from a troubadour of the highest quality. Continue reading “Live Review – Amythyst Kiah @ Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival”
The summer months in Edinburgh are packed full of exciting cultural events and July’s highlight is always the diverse and interesting Jazz and Blues festival. This was actually the first year I’ve been able to attend and thankfully the programme offered a strong range of interesting women performing across the festival. What’s nice to see with curated festivals like this one is that the level of promotion and marketing ensures good turn outs and enthusiastic crowds.
My first show was ‘Queens of the Blues’, a homage to some of the best women of the genre performed by Edinburgh based Nicole Smit and her band. Despite the early afternoon slot the show was sold out and the packed crowd were eager to hear some blues classics. Continue reading “Live Review: Queens Of the Blues @ Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival”
Dolly’s tenth studio album released in 1972 was a tribute to her boss and mentor Porter Wagoner, who had also been acting as her uncredited producer and manager since she joined The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967. Dolly’s reasons for recording songs by Porter were outlined in the album notes: ‘Porter has performed many of the songs I have written since I have been associated with him, and it is a great pleasure for me to be able to do this album of his songs.’ My Favourite Songwriter, Porter Wagoner was Dolly’s way of honouring the man who had supported her songwriting and helped shape her career in so many ways. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – “My Favourite Songwriter, Porter Wagoner””
Talented songwriter Lera Lynn set herself a challenge on this new album – to head out of her comfort zone and write with other musicians. She hoped to try something different and maybe even have a little fun. Plays Well With Others, the result of these intriguing collaborations, showcases Lynn’s stylish charm throughout its nine songs. Continue reading “Album Review: Lera Lynn – Plays Well With Others”
Since her premature death in 2012, Whitney Houston’s life has been the subject of films, articles, books and television shows but this documentary directed by Kevin MacDonald is the first to gain the cooperation of Whitney’s family. Despite a strong first half eventually this film falls into speculation, cheap gossip and outrageous accusations about her personal life and eventual death.