‘I had to get rich so I could sing like I was poor,’ Dolly famously joked about ‘The Grass is Blue’ released in 1999. While Dolly had the mountains in her veins and her voice from the start, there was always a sprinkling of razzle dazzle pop rhinestones on her country banjo. Traditional bluegrass may have influenced her songwriting but this would be her first full length embrace of the genre, earning a Grammy for ‘Best Bluegrass Album’. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Grass is Blue (1999)”
‘Aquatic Flowers’ is singer/songwriter/poet/businesswoman Tristen Gaspadarek’s fourth album, produced and recorded with her husband and band mate Buddy Hughen in Nashville where she’s based. Full of dreamy, bittersweet melodies these are songs which offer light in these uncertain times. Continue reading “Album Review: Tristen – Aquatic Flowers”
After the success of the Our Native Daughters project Allison Russell made the decision to release music under her own name for the first time. Outside Child is a personal and intimate project which Allison describes as being about ‘resilience, survival, transcendence, the redemptive power of art, community, connection and chosen family’. Many of the songs were written in response to her childhood trauma and by singing her wounds she finds healing and catharsis. Continue reading “Album Review- Allison Russell – Outside Child”
Natalia Lafourcade’s Musas albums brought the history of Latin folk music to life for modern audiences and she continued to explore her roots on last year’s Un Canto Por La Mexico Vol 1. That album was a collective celebration, which included many guest artists and reworkings of her old songs. It went on to win three Latin Grammys as well as the overall Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Album. The second volume of the project continues her collaborations with many modern artists of Latin music, who together celebrate the greatest hits of her musical culture. Continue reading “Album Review: Natalia Lafourcade – Un Canto por Mexico Vol. 2”
On Charlie Marie’s 2019 EP she sang about how ‘everywhere’s got a countryside’, channeling Patsy Cline and gathering some well deserved online buzz. Due to the pandemic it has taken a couple of years for her to release this debut album but it is more than worth the wait. Ramble On is a welcome journey through the classic country sound with lots of witty wordplay. Continue reading “Album Review: Charlie Marie – Ramble On”
Back in another lifetime when live music still existed I was lucky enough to see Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi play on a cold winter evening in Edinburgh. Despite being in a large concert hall the show was intimate, brooding, frenetic, inspiring.
What was also apparent was the deep connection between the couple, musically and personally – they came from different countries, different worlds and yet they seemed like two halves of one whole. The duo’s previous album ‘there is no Other’ used folk music to show the dangers of a world where discrimination and hatred grow, but it was also about how finding a home in this world can be a devastating struggle for so many. Strange then that coronavirus would soon afterwards force us all to stay in one place, to have a reckoning with what home really means.
During the pandemic the power of music to bring comfort and bridge barriers of time and space became even more important and resulted in this new album They’re Calling Me Home. Continue reading “Album Review: Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi – They’re Calling Me Home”
‘Out here you’ve got nothing else to lean on…you’ve got sky, desert, emotion.’ The here is Marfa, Texas. Last year Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall and Jack Ingram escaped to their hideaway searching for solace, sunsets and songs. The results are The Marfa Tapes, a bare bones collection which beautifully evokes a place out of time. Continue reading “Album Review: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall – The Marfa Tapes”
Ashley Monroe’s last album ‘Sparrow’ was a lush and orchestral step away from her country music roots, with songs like ‘Wild Love’ and ‘Hands on You’ offering us the first hints that she was an artist willing to take risks and move in new directions. Her new album Rosegold fully embraces this ethereal, sensual musical style, with deliciously dreamy results. Continue reading “Album Review: Ashley Monroe – Rosegold”
In his recent book about David Hockney, critic Martin Gayford described the artist as someone who ‘keeps doing the same thing, continually fired by the urge to do it differently and better…he is teaching us a lesson not only in how to see, but how to live.’ Dolly Parton has lived her life in the exact same way. Great art is found in the consistent creativity of hard work.
On first listen Hungry Again might sound like a retread of some of Dolly’s earlier ideas but connecting to her past is part of what has made her an icon. As she writes ‘Sometimes to know just how far you’ve traveled, you’ve got to go back to where you began’. The songs were written over a three month period spent between her lake house and childhood home, resulting in Dolly’s first album of entirely solo penned material in decades. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Hungry Again (1998)”