Album Review: Kacey Musgraves – star-crossed

In her recent New York Times interview Kacey Musgraves joked that she ‘wasn’t going to be a real country artist without at least one divorce under my belt’. That’s the kind of self deprecating, knowing humour which she sprinkled through her first three albums, culminating in her triumphant success at the Grammys in 2019.

Golden Hour was strikingly original, hugely influential and every single song on that album could have been a radio hit. The fact the Grammys understood its power more than country radio tells you why she had to leave that genre behind. Mainstream country is a lost cause, more so now than ever – it’s become such a difficult place for most progressive female artists I’m just glad that some of them get out of there alive. Take country with you but dear god don’t look back.

star-crossed works best when listened to as a whole and indeed as a sequel – a splintering to what came before. Despite the light modern production this album strangely feels less commercial, with fewer big hooks and melodies. After the Golden Hour faded Kacey sounds like she got high and disappeared into the clouds. Blur the pain away. Continue reading “Album Review: Kacey Musgraves – star-crossed”

Album Review: Yola – Stand For Myself

In creating this second album Yola aimed to write classic pop songs that crossed genre, time, spaces, continents and palettes. Her excellent last album was mainly written collaboratively in the studio with producer Dan Auerbach bringing in different musicians to write with, a strategy which brought her much success in the Americana music world. Due to to the pandemic Stand For Myself began in isolation, allowing for Yola to write from a more personal perspective. Continue reading “Album Review: Yola – Stand For Myself”

Album Review: Lucy Dacus – Home Video

I once heard about a comedy night where people read out their teenage diaries verbatim, finding humour in the shared horror, innocence and stupidity of youth. The event seemed to tap into that instinct we have to laugh at our younger selves, while also letting us envy the openness which only teenagers have. Lucy Dacus’s new album Home Video draws heavily on her own teenage journals and the title refers to her rewatching childhood videos. By looking at the past her music draws power in the universality of life’s specific memories. Continue reading “Album Review: Lucy Dacus – Home Video”

Album Review – Amythyst Kiah – Wary + Strange

A few years back I was lucky to see Amythyst Kiah play at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues festival where she wowed the crowd with her impressive banjo skills, distinctive voice and engaging stories. Her collaboration with Our Native Daughters was one of my favourite albums of the last few years and Kiah gained a richly deserved Grammy nomination for Black Myself, her brilliant contribution to that outstanding project. She follows that up with this powerful new album Wary + Strange, produced by Tony Berg.

Continue reading “Album Review – Amythyst Kiah – Wary + Strange”

Album Review- Allison Russell – Outside Child

After the success of the Our Native Daughters project Allison Russell made the decision to release music under her own name for the first time. Outside Child is a personal and intimate project which Allison describes as being about ‘resilience, survival, transcendence, the redemptive power of art, community, connection and chosen family’. Many of the songs were written in response to her childhood trauma and by singing her wounds she finds healing and catharsis. Continue reading “Album Review- Allison Russell – Outside Child”

Album Review: Natalia Lafourcade – Un Canto por Mexico Vol. 2

Natalia Lafourcade’s Musas albums brought the history of Latin folk music to life for modern audiences and she continued to explore her roots on last year’s Un Canto Por La Mexico Vol 1. That album was a collective celebration, which included many guest artists and reworkings of her old songs. It went on to win three Latin Grammys as well as the overall Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Album. The second volume of the project continues her collaborations with many modern artists of Latin music, who together celebrate the greatest hits of her musical culture. Continue reading “Album Review: Natalia Lafourcade – Un Canto por Mexico Vol. 2”

Album Review: Charlie Marie – Ramble On

On Charlie Marie’s 2019 EP she sang about how ‘everywhere’s got a countryside’, channeling Patsy Cline and gathering some well deserved online buzz. Due to the pandemic it has taken a couple of years for her to release this debut album but it is more than worth the wait. Ramble On is a welcome journey through the classic country sound with lots of witty wordplay. Continue reading “Album Review: Charlie Marie – Ramble On”

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