Album Review: Brittany Howard – Jaime

Brittany Howard has always had ambition to be known as more than just a vintage soul singer, as proven by the second Alabama Shakes album and her alter ego Thunderbitch. Her new solo album, Jaime, is named after her sister who died in childhood and takes musical inspiration from wildly diverse genres and styles. Jaime is a personal odyssey of discovery where in an attempt to deconstruct her past, musically and personally, she has created something thrillingly present. Continue reading “Album Review: Brittany Howard – Jaime”

Album Review: The Highwomen

Flash forward to next year and imagine that the Highwomen have just won the CMA for album of the year to add to their Grammy, they have been played every hour on the hour on country radio and topped the charts with their first five singles, headlined a huge arena tour and been invited to join the Opry. Yes, Mama went and damn well changed the Nashville sound.

Doesn’t that sound like the most wonderful dream? Yet even me, the biggest Stan in all of Stanville, knows that this is unlikely, nay impossible. But why can’t it be reality, you may ask? After all Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, Maren Morris and Natalie Hemby are four of the most talented women in all genres of music. Together they have produced an album full of quality songwriting, gorgeous country music and enough personality to dazzle even the most dark-hearted of cynics. Continue reading “Album Review: The Highwomen”

Album Review: Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!

I hadn’t listened much to Lana Del Rey before I began writing this blog. Sure I knew Summertime Sadness and Video Games but they didn’t encourage me to listen further. There was something about her sad-girl-loves-bad-boys image that made me think she was a construct, a record label fantasy surely created by a man. Her dead eye stare was as cold as the beats of her over produced music.

And, to be honest, I still don’t know if I’m entirely wrong about those initial assumptions. What I do know is that with Norman Fucking Rockwell! Lana Del Rey just released one of the best albums of 2019. Her quiet evolution into one of the most vital voices of this year has been quite stunning to witness. Continue reading “Album Review: Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!”

Album Review: Tanya Tucker – While I’m Livin’

Before she went into the studio to record her first album of originals in seventeen years Tanya Tucker had cold feet. She didn’t think the songs were good enough and she’d never even heard of Brandi Carlile. If it wasn’t for Shooter Jennings convincing her to stick with it, then this album might never have happened. Even then she doubted herself through the recording process and kept threatening to quit.

Brandi and the twins had written songs for Tanya and wanted to make an album to show ‘the grit, the growl, the cracks and imperfections’ that made Tanya Tucker the singer she is. Tanya was used to singing big commercial country hits and her music had even been glossy, at times. This new rootsier direction felt like a risk. But even she would admit that her last album had been a clunker, and so eventually she realised she had nothing to lose. Once Brandi told her “This is Tanya Tucker, the singer, not Tanya, the entertainer”, I finally got it,” she says.

And thank god she did. Because to say this is a gift from the country music heavens barely does it justice. While I’m Livin’ is a masterpiece and one of the best records of the year. Continue reading “Album Review: Tanya Tucker – While I’m Livin’”

Album Review: Eilen Jewell – Gypsy

The stand out track of this new album from Eilen Jewell is a protest song written soon after the 2016 presidential election. It’s a rallying call, not just against Trump and the pay gap but also against racism, political tribalism, gaslighting, and the way mothers are treated too. Jewell isn’t afraid to be political, and use her songwriting to take a hard look at the world around her. Continue reading “Album Review: Eilen Jewell – Gypsy”

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