Album Review: Norah Jones – I Dream of Christmas

Original Christmas songs and albums are becoming harder to find, with so many artists finding the opportunity to sing classics too hard to resist. Who can blame them, after all, since these holiday songs are etched on our collective memories. Last year Pistol Annies released an album of mainly originals but that is rare.

Norah Jones’s ‘I Dream of Christmas’ was actually released last year, although I didn’t have a chance to listen to it then, so I was glad to see this deluxe re-release came just in time when I was looking for a new Christmas album to review. The edition includes six original songs written by Norah, alongside seasonal favourites sung in her classic jazz inspired sound.

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Album Review: Miko Marks & the Resurrectors – Feel Like Going Home

Miko Marks’s last release ‘Our Country’ was a welcome return for an artist who had suffered setbacks in her country music career, never finding the opportunities or success her talent deserved. That album was a classic mix of country, soul and gospel influences showcasing an artist who had renewed hope for a late career resurrection.

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Album Review: S.G. Goodman – Teeth Marks

S.G. Goodman was born and raised in Kentucky, a place which burns through her voice and her words. But her music isn’t of the mountains and the wide open countryside, it’s in the grime of these places, the claustrophobia, the endless emptiness of the void. Emotional pain and destruction thrives in these darkened backwaters, quiet hope trying to find a way to appear among the rolling clouds.

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Album Review: First Aid Kit – Palomino

We last heard First Aid Kit in ‘Ruins’ an album full of heartbreak songs that weighed so heavily on the band they ended their last touring schedule completely burnt out. After a much needed break they’re back with ‘Palomino’, recorded during the pandemic and produced by Daniel Bengston with some songwriting assistance from Bjorn Yttling. The horse of the title is a symbol of strength and freedom, signalling that the positive changes in their recent personal lives will be reflected in the new music (much like the other album of the same name released this year).

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Album Review: Lainey Wilson – Bell Bottom Country

A couple of weeks back Lainey Wilson stormed the Country Music Awards, winning Female Vocalist as well as New Artist of the Year, rewarding a woman who has been working hard to make a name for herself in a crowded and challenging mainstream country music world.

Her new album ‘Bell Bottom Country’ shows that she understands what modern country music needs to be – both familiar and yet forward looking, personal but full of common truths.

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Album Review: Plains – I Walked With You A Ways

The recent trend in the music industry for collaboration between women artists continues with this recently released Plains record, featuring Jess Williamson and Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee. When so much of an artist’s worth seems tied up in who they are and how they can sell themselves as individuals, there’s obviously something very appealing in working with different people and releasing music under a new name. Perhaps financial pressures also encourage women to team up, tour together and share the burden of press duties. In the old days you formed a band and then went solo, nowadays it’s the other way around.

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Album Recommendation: Caitlin Rose – Cazimi

Reading the recent Guardian interview with Caitlin Rose was revealing, but not in the way you might expect. Here was an artist refusing to share her trauma or explain the personal reasons for the nine year gap between records. In an online world where oversharing is normalised (and monetised) the statement: I don’t think artists owe their stories, I think they owe music is radical and refreshing.

What Caitlin did share was that she has felt ‘stuck’ in her career. You can imagine then, how hard it must be to come back after a long time away. Seeing the endless, constant success of others paraded on social media can only add more doubt. Stasis is no surprise.

To break out Caitlin did something simple: she gave herself permission to stay in her ‘comfort zone’, connecting with friends who made her want to enjoy music again rather than aiming for something radically different. Old fans will recognise this artist immediately, with Cazimi reminding us what made her such an engaging voice in the first place.

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