Album Review: Florence & The Machine – High As Hope

A few years back Florence became one of only a handful of women to ever headline Glastonbury festival. Within moments of her set beginning it was clear she belonged up there. She has the songs, the voice and the charisma to headline anywhere. It shouldn’t have taken a rock legend’s broken leg to give her a chance to take an opportunity she had already earned and then some.

In an era where women are struggling to even get on festival bills AT ALL, let alone headline, we need Florence and the Machine more than ever. We need her at her epic, show-stopping best. If Florence is up there that might convince more festivals to book more women and inspire the next generation of women to aim for the same heights.

So it is hugely disappointing to see major publications like the Guardian and Pitchfork call out festivals for not having gender equal bills while simultaneously giving some major releases by women in 2018 overtly critical reviews. This has happened to Chvrches and now Florence. Media attention and critical praise isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to festival bills but we’re kidding ourselves if we say it has no effect. When we need these artists to be celebrated, promoted and supported they are met with indifference and even sneering hatred by the media. What’s even more baffling is that the quality of music produced by these artists remains excellent and worthy of praise.

On her new album High As Hope Florence deals with a ‘dangerous’ period in her life, turning inwards to contemplate her own failings, the trouble with love, drugs, the world as a whole. Musically it is a little less baroque and dramatic than before, but the album still stuns with its big hearted whoosh of pianos and lush soundscapes. Continue reading “Album Review: Florence & The Machine – High As Hope”

Album Review: Kadhja Bonet – Childqueen

Classically trained multi-instrumentalist Kadhja Bonet has a singular vision for her music that is refreshing in a world where music is increasingly written by committee. On her new album Childqueen she has written, arranged and produced the songs, played most of the instruments and even designed the artwork herself. The result is an astounding album of original music which sounds refreshingly out of time. Continue reading “Album Review: Kadhja Bonet – Childqueen”

Album Review: Tracyanne & Danny – Tracyanne & Danny

On the title track to Camera Obscura’s masterpiece My Maudlin Career, Tracyanne Campbell sang ‘this maudlin career must come to an end / I don’t want to be sad again’, a line heavy in irony for a singer whose music had always captured a bittersweet Scottish melancholy. Their next album Desire Lines seemed to take this line to heart with its more upbeat pop feel on songs like Break it To You Gently and Do It Again. However the lighter sound hid a devastating reality: band member Carey Lander was suffering from cancer and tragically died in 2015. Since then the band have been on an indefinite hiatus, dealing with their loss.

Therefore this new collaborative project between Campbell and Danny Coughlan of Crybaby is a chance for a fresh start, a way to sing again without the memory of what has gone before weighing too heavily. Taking the controls for the album is producer Edwyn Collins, a man who understands much about overcoming adversity. Maybe what you need to get back on your feet is just a little help from your friends. Continue reading “Album Review: Tracyanne & Danny – Tracyanne & Danny”

Album Review: Erin Rae – Putting on Airs

The cover of Erin Rae’s new album is a painting by Nashville artist Harry Underwood, depicting a barroom scene – in it a woman puts a song on the jukebox, a man sits at the bar and the space between them is both small and vast at the same time. The painting, and the songs contained within, capture that sense of alienation and sadness which exist in everyday moments. ‘Putting on Airs’ is an album of breathtaking beauty, an intimate impression of American life. Continue reading “Album Review: Erin Rae – Putting on Airs”

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”

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”

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