Album Review: Shannon Shaw – Shannon In Nashville

Shannon Shaw and her band The Clams have been producing great garage rockabilly albums since their debut in 2009. Now stepping out on her own for this solo album, Shaw is embracing a more polished sound inspired by a mix of soul, classic girl groups and vintage pop. Produced by label boss Dan Auerbach ‘Shannon in Nashville’ is a dramatic and engaging collection of songs which display a real raw vocal talent. Continue reading “Album Review: Shannon Shaw – Shannon In Nashville”

Live Review: Belly @ The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

The great thing about loving a band is that obsessive fandom gives you a nice excuse to travel to places you would never normally go. So when personal circumstances meant I was unable to attend the Belly gig in Glasgow this upcoming weekend I ended up buying tickets for the only other show I could attend, which was in Portsmouth – literally the furthest away gig from where I live. But hey when you’ve already waited so long to see your favourite band reunite then things like distance and cost no longer matter. Continue reading “Live Review: Belly @ The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth”

Album Review: Natalie Prass – The Future & The Past

On her debut album Natalie Prass embraced her feminine side, releasing music that was lush and syrupy in the best way. Some (male) critics compared the songs to Disney music as though that was a bad thing, but mostly the reviews were as sparkling as the sound. Only a few years have passed but the world has changed irrevocably – it feels like a darker place where harsh truths can no longer be sugar coated, for better and worse. Prass scrapped her original recordings for this album and started again in order that the music better reflect her feelings about this new reality. On the cover of The Future & The Past she has deliberately chosen to wear a suit and stand defiant, looking towards us with a serious stare. This album will say something about the world, and she will not be silenced. Continue reading “Album Review: Natalie Prass – The Future & The Past”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Coat Of Many Colors

With hindsight it feels incredible to think that Dolly Parton had to be convinced to record what would become one of her signature songs, ‘Coat of Many Colors’. The song was written on a tour bus in 1969, on the back of a dry cleaning receipt ironically for one of Porter’s Nudie suits (the receipt was eventually framed by Porter and can now be seen at Dollywood) but was not recorded until 1971 on this, her eighth album. Two years might not seem like a long time but Dolly had written and recorded many other songs in the interim. Porter himself actually recorded the first version, with Dolly on backing vocals, but he knew that there was only one singer who could do this song justice – the girl in the song. So why did Dolly hesitate to put this one on tape? To understand the answer we have to go back through the years, once again returning to her childhood in Tennessee. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Coat Of Many Colors”

On Chvrches & The Problem With Negative Reviews

This week Lauren Mayberry from Chvrches responded to a negative review the band’s new album received from Stereogum by posting a long reply on social media. In the post she discussed her own experiences as a critic and expressed her frustration at the writer’s condescending take on the album, before asking ‘If you shit on something and the people who make it, then ‘pin’ it to your profile what does that say about you?’ As a blogger that question, and also a recently published anonymous article about the mental health of artists, got me thinking about the role of the critic and the problem with negative reviews. Continue reading “On Chvrches & The Problem With Negative Reviews”

Live Review: Gretchen Peters & Kim Richey @ Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Not long into her performance Gretchen Peters announced ‘If you don’t like sad songs then you’re in the wrong place,’ much to the amusement of the crowd, who all knew exactly what they were getting themselves into when they took their seats. Before the show people were even cheerily buying notebooks and t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan ‘sad songs make me happy’, which were for sale at the merchandise stand. Embracing the joy of melancholy is something Scottish people are famous for, after all.  Continue reading “Live Review: Gretchen Peters & Kim Richey @ Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh”

Album Review: Jennifer Castle – Angels of Death

Recorded in a church near Lake Eerie, Jennifer Castle’s new album Angels of Death certainly has the feel of a twilight evening by the water, where you sit on a porch swing and just watch the darkness descend. The infinite mysteries of nature are everywhere in Castle’s music, which is inspired by folk, country, the blues – music of the dirt rich earth and yet she sounds more like she belongs in the air, whispering her sweet melodies into the wind. Continue reading “Album Review: Jennifer Castle – Angels of Death”

Album Review: Carter Sampson – Lucky

The whimsical portrait on the cover of this new album from Carter Sampson appears to show a woman comfortable with the world. Sure, she holds a horseshoe for luck but she’s not wishing for endless riches or anything outrageous like that. Her smile suggests she’s counting her blessings and appreciating the life she has right now. The music on ‘Lucky’ reflects this peaceful contentedness, with its warm and inviting country sound. Continue reading “Album Review: Carter Sampson – Lucky”

Why Thelma Houston’s ‘Sunshower’ Still Shines

In the late sixties Jimmy Webb had just written Wichita Lineman for Glen Campbell when he began working with Thelma Houston, a woman he declared to be ‘the most prodigious talent I have ever encountered.’ Now mainly remembered for her disco hit Don’t Leave Me This Way, Thelma Houston’s performance on the Sunshower album shows a singer of distinctive depth, who was willing to experiment with style and genre. Webb’s music was a mix of gospel flourishes, lush orchestral arrangements and yes even a hint of country music. This album remains an underrated and overlooked classic which displays the ambitious nature of both songwriter and singer. Continue reading “Why Thelma Houston’s ‘Sunshower’ Still Shines”

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