Album Review: Valerie June – The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers

Some voices are instantly calming, transporting you to the heavens, letting you drift away from the worry of the world below. On her new album ‘The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers’, Valerie June invites us to take a trip on her cloud, singing us healing messages of hope and positivity. Continue reading “Album Review: Valerie June – The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers”

Album Review: Yasmin Williams – Urban Driftwood

Instrumental albums pose challenges for reviewers like myself whose natural tendency is to focus on vocals and lyrics. Yet I love to listen to this kind of music, to let it work its mysterious magic on my soul and instead of deconstructing the words to search for the narrative in my own emotional reaction to the sound. Yasmin Williams’s new album ‘Urban Driftwood’ is a masterpiece of acoustic guitar playing, connecting with her instrument on a level that reaches the sublime. Continue reading “Album Review: Yasmin Williams – Urban Driftwood”

Women in Music to Support on Patreon Right Now!

This year has exposed the uncomfortable truth that many in the music industry are struggling to keep their heads above water both financially and emotionally. The pandemic has destroyed the touring eco-system and underlined the endemic issues caused by loss of income due to streaming.

Paradoxically the Internet which caused the collapse of physical record buying, could actually offer some useful solutions. Since lockdown began musicians have been diversifying into live-streaming and using their social media to connect with fans.

Platforms like Instagram and YouTube offer further opportunities but these may veer too close to asking musicians to become influencers or vloggers for some to be entirely comfortable. Selling out might be an outdated concept but there are still some limits. And while crowdfunding for individual projects has been helpful in the past, many have been burned by the Pledge Music scandal which left artists and fans out of pocket and suspicious of digital middle men.

In contrast the direct funding site Patreon seems to be much less of a risky endeavour. Artists ask for monthly donations in return for tiered rewards which are usually content based rather than linked to physical products – for example exclusive live-streams, q and as, discounts on merch, first opportunities to buy tickets for shows, written updates, cover songs, workshops, meet and greets etc. Some do offer physical products but there seems to be less potential for issues if Patreon ceased to exist.

Like the name suggests this is inspired by the original idea of patronage where someone with money supported an artist just to do their work. The site’s model goes further than this by incorporating ideas from social media to help create communities of fans, letting them connect with the artist on a new level. Most fans donating will likely buy albums too so this becomes an additional rather than a replacement source of funding.

Personally I’m happy to just donate without rewards but I can see the added value in what many artists are offering. When I asked about the site on Twitter I received only positive feedback from fans and artists alike. For once this seems to be working for everyone.

The only problem with Patreon then is choosing how to spend your money if you are lucky enough to have some extra to give. There are hundreds of worthy artists all needing your help. My plan is to donate a certain amount of money each month and then rotate to new artists after six months. Some might prefer just to choose one favourite and give them as much as they can afford.

If you are looking for options here is a list of women in music who are currently using Patreon – all of whom have been featured on Highway Queens in the past. Click below to help support the future of music:

Continue reading “Women in Music to Support on Patreon Right Now!”

Album Review: Olivia Ellen Lloyd – Loose Cannon

Olivia Ellen Lloyd describes her sound as ‘country music with feelings’, embracing the traditional, original intent of the genre before it got hijacked by pop music production and lyrics devoid of any kind of meaning beyond beer, trucks and saying the word ‘girl’ repeatedly. Originally from West Virginia and now based in Brooklyn, her new album Loose Cannon is a collection of brilliant sounding songs which deal thoughtfully with themes of loss, identity and sorrow. Continue reading “Album Review: Olivia Ellen Lloyd – Loose Cannon”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Treasures (1996)

Why can’t we love one another? Why can’t we ride on the peace train?

Dolly Parton is often described as being an apolitical figure, one who refuses to speak out on controversial issues or align herself to a political party. However like many other cultural and spiritual icons before her, throughout her career Dolly has been a subtle but significant force for progressive change.

You could argue that it is exactly because Dolly has risen above the party political divide that she has been able to so successfully use her voice to support causes like literacy, women’s rights, LGBT rights, rural poverty and more recently healthcare and vaccine research.

Dolly’s message in her music and her life is one of peace and harmony, seen clearly on this diverse and inclusive 1996 covers album Treasures. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Treasures (1996)”

Album Review: Senora May – All of My Love

Last year Senora May decided to record an album of love songs in response to the pandemic and an increasingly divided world. “I was sick of all the hate I saw people spewing,’ she said in a recent interview, perfectly summing up how many of us feel about the overwhelmingly toxic online (and offline) spaces we have found ourselves existing in. All of My Love is a welcome antidote to the chaos and a reminder that love and music are all we really need to get by. Continue reading “Album Review: Senora May – All of My Love”

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