Album Review: Fenne Lily – Breach

I first heard Fenne Lily when she opened for Hurray for the Riff Raff a few years back. She was a striking stage prescence: confident, witty and charming in her self-deprecation. Her songs were promising at the time, holding secrets in their quietly faded moodiness.

On her new album ‘Breach’ she proves herself one of the most talented young British singer songwriters we have. Opening song How to Be a Woman is a gentle invitation to her world, don’t be scared of me she sings with a comforting whisper. The little line ‘fuck falling apart’ tells us there’s equal amounts strength and sarcasm in her lyrical armour. Continue reading “Album Review: Fenne Lily – Breach”

Album Review: Nana Adjoa – Big Dreaming Ants

The illustration on the cover of this album shows people all crammed into two tower blocks, connected but separate. Dutch based songwriter Nana Adjoa’s new album Big Dreaming Ants is similarly packed with a range of diverse influences including soul, jazz, folk, electronia and indie rock. She references Nina Simone, Wilco, JJ Cale and Jeff Buckley in a recent interview and that’s just the kind of intriguing melting pot which she brings to this impressive debut album. Continue reading “Album Review: Nana Adjoa – Big Dreaming Ants”

Album Review: The War & Treaty – Hearts Town

Some artists have so much energy and talent that recorded music can barely convey or contain them. This fact is true of husband and wife duo Tanya and Michael Trotter, known as The War and Treaty, whose joyful, uplifting musical spirit has to be witnessed in real life to fully comprehend. To say I’m a true believer doesn’t even cover it.

Their debut album ‘The Healing Tide’ was a delightful mix of vintage soul and Americana that brimmed with the effervescent energy and vocal star power of the duo. Hearts Town, their wonderful new album, takes us to a place where pain is understood, music heals and there’s always another chance to begin again. Continue reading “Album Review: The War & Treaty – Hearts Town”

Album Review – Bettye LaVette – Blackbirds

Recently there has been a noticeable trend of artists releasing cover albums – some choose to feature songs from one artist like Emma Swift’s take on Bob Dylan, or Juliana Hatfield’s tributes to Olivia Newton John and The Police; while most go for a mixture of songs that have inspired them or influenced their music like recent releases from Tanya Donelly and Molly Tuttle.

Most of these projects are recorded as a diversion from their usual path of original songwriting. What you see rarely now are singers for whom interpretation is their sole focus. The few artists who make this choice tend to belong to classic genres like folk, jazz or blues. Singing old songs, for them, remains a vital way to communicate with history, and seek answers from the pioneers of the past.

On her new album ‘Blackbirds’ Grammy nominated blueswoman Bettye LaVette has chosen to record songs made famous by other black women, paying tribute to the legacy of the many iconic musicians who paved the hard road before her. This album shows that she has the talent and skills of interpretation to match even the best of them. Continue reading “Album Review – Bettye LaVette – Blackbirds”

Album Review: Emma Swift – Blonde on the Tracks

In his Nobel Prize acceptance lecture Bob Dylan discussed how he first began learning old folk songs, eventually internalising them into his own songwriting. ‘You hear all the finer points, and you learn the details,’ he explained. By singing these songs he discovered ‘the devices, the techniques, the secrets, the mysteries’, concluding that ‘songs are alive in the land of the living’. Old songs are meant not just to be heard, but to be sung anew by the next generations.

Emma Swift began ‘Blonde on the Tracks‘, her project of Dylan covers, as a way to recover her artistic inspiration after experiencing depression. Mainly recorded in 2017 these versions were not even intended to be an album but when the pandemic destroyed Swift’s plans for touring she decided to release the recordings. Continue reading “Album Review: Emma Swift – Blonde on the Tracks”

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