Most of us are stuck in the gutter looking at the stars, others like Lisa Hannigan are shining brightly in the sky like a celestial angel sent to serenade us lowly wretches. With the help of contemporary chamber orchestra s t a r g a z e she has reimagined her songs for the stage, with her hometown Dublin show being recorded for this new release. Continue reading “Album Review: Lisa Hannigan & s t a r g a z e – Live in Dublin”
I’ve noticed a recent trend in country music for songs about how hard it is to make in Nashville – like ‘This Town is Killing Me’ by Caitlyn Smith, ‘Dreams Don’t Come True’ by Angaleena Presley and ‘Ten Year Town’ by Hailey Whitters. Honest thoughts about the crushing reality of pursuing success are also recurring themes on this new album ‘Too Mean To Die’ by Karly Driftwood. Her dreams haven’t come true, not even close, but maybe that just gives her something to sing about. Continue reading “Album Review: Karly Driftwood – Too Mean To Die”
For Mavis Staples’s 80th birthday the great and the good from across the musical spectrum came together in three concerts that celebrated the legacy of an artist who has been bringing light to the world for decades and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. As a force for harmony and unity there are few who can touch her. She’s skateboarding her way into the twilight of her career with more confidence than ever. Continue reading “Album Review: Mavis Staples – We Get By”
When I reviewed Jade Bird’s EP Something American back in 2017 I admired her talent and was intrigued to see what direction her career would take. She was being marketed at the time as ‘country’ – which seemed like a bit of a stretch for a girl from England singing soft rock/pop. However Yola recently proved that it is possible to take such influences and make them sound authentic. Both artists have now been nominated as ‘Emerging Artist of the Year’ at the 2019 Americana awards, the first Brits to gain nominations in that category since Mumford & Sons in 2011. Continue reading “Album Review: Jade Bird”
Lady Nade is currently on tour with fellow Bristolian Yola, impressing audiences with her evocative voice and mix of soul, jazz and folk. On her new album Safe Place she has blended these influences to produce an inviting and optimistic collection of songs. Continue reading “Album Review: Lady Nade – Safe Place”
There’s a delightfully delicious dark side to this new self-titled album from Steel Blossoms. Singers Hayley Prosser and Sara Zebley often have their tongue in their cheek, and they know that traditional country music is the perfect place to really put such dry humour to good use. By not taking themselves too seriously the duo have made one of the most entertaining albums of the year. Continue reading “Album Review: Steel Blossoms”
Rhiannon Giddens collects songs, instruments and stories from all through history and synthesises them perfectly with her modern musical purpose. She believes in teaching us the failings of the past, to better understand our present. On her new album she has paired up with Italian virtuoso musician Francesco Turrisi, someone who shares her connection with folk music history, with his expertise in Islamic, Mediterranean and eastern styles. By pairing together on this album ‘there is no Other‘ (capitalisation deliberate) they want to show that no matter where we come from we are all one voice, one history, one future.
After the dramatic dissolution of her band The Civil Wars, Joy Williams seemed like an artist searching for herself. Before those fractious and fiery albums of absorbing Americana she had been a contemporary gospel singer, offering polite pop prayers. To many fans unfamiliar with her earlier work, her 2015 solo synth pop album ‘Venus’ sounded not just a like an evolution of her sound but an entirely different artist. So this new album ‘Front Porch’ is a welcome reset of her musical style and a quiet return to form. Continue reading “Album Review: Joy Williams – Front Porch”
When I started this blog in 2017 my aim was just to share music I loved with anyone that cared to listen but another, equally important purpose was to discover new artists for myself too. One such gem is Caroline Spence, who came to my attention through a recommendation from one of my Twitter followers. I listened to her album ‘Spades and Roses’ and loved it immediately, especially ‘Softball’ which is fast becoming something of a feminist Americana anthem. So please allow me to pay the recommendation forward by telling you that Caroline’s new album ‘Mint Condition’, is one of the best releases of the year so far.