Album Review: The Secret Sisters – Saturn Return

Last year I was lucky enough to see the Secret Sisters open the Sunday of High Water Festival in Charleston. The sisters were both pregnant and in high spirits, entertaining the crowd with their stories and reducing us all to tears with the beauty of their music.

They previewed some songs from this new album at that show, so I have been eagerly waiting ever since to hear these recorded versions and thankfully they do not disappoint. The sisters have again worked with producer Brandi Carlile, after their previous collaboration on You Don’t Own Me Anymore. Every song on this album was written by the sisters, a deeply personal project with the title representing the significant change occurring in both their lives. Continue reading “Album Review: The Secret Sisters – Saturn Return”

Album Review: Tami Neilson – CHICKABOOM!

In the winter months my musical preferences veer heavily towards the quiet and introspective. Living in Scotland means I have to spend a lot of time indoors due to the weather so I often search out soothing albums that can soundtrack lazy afternoons of reading or writing like the recent releases from Bonny Light Horseman and Isobel Campbell, for example.

At the end of last year I had listened to some preview tracks from this new Tami Neilson album and really enjoyed them but as time for release date came my mood didn’t really match up to returning to such a style of music. Blame my hesitancy on seasonal affective disorder, rather than anything to do with the artist themselves.

Yesterday I looked outside and finally there she was, the dear old sun and even a blue sky. Okay so it was still fucking freezing but I decided this was the opportunity to blow the cobwebs off and take CHICKABOOM! outside with me for a walk. Continue reading “Album Review: Tami Neilson – CHICKABOOM!”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Great Pretender (1984)

The appeal of Dolly Parton’s image has always been in how the ‘false’ make-up, wigs, gaudy outfits and cosmetic enhancements contrast with her country roots and the vulnerable truths in her music. ‘The Great Pretender’ is what she set out to be as a poor kid playing dress up, writing songs and hoping to become a star. By 1984 she’d successfully created her legendary persona and was a household name. Her musical output in the eighties was wildly inconsistent at best, with dwindling returns from the heady heights of 9 to 5. This album would prove to be a low of her recording career, filled with forgettable cover versions of songs from the fifties and sixties that offered little of what had got her here in the first place. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Great Pretender (1984)”

Waiting for the Hush: On Talking At Gigs

During a break between songs at her recent Celtic Connections show, Iris DeMent marvelled at the silence of the crowd. You could hear a pin drop through the whole set, the audience and artist locked together in an exchange of mutual respect and attention. “Not even the best teacher in the world gets that,” she said and the crowd laughed in agreement. As a teacher myself her comment got me thinking about that hush and how rare and elusive it is for performers, and teachers alike. Continue reading “Waiting for the Hush: On Talking At Gigs”

EP Review: Anoushka Shankar – Love Letters

Sitarist Anoushka Shankar began working on her new EP Love Letters after going through a particularly difficult time in her private life. The songs address the complex reality of dealing with her divorce and its emotional aftermath.

Shankar chose to work mainly with other women on this project, seeking solace from her female friendships. As she explained in a recent interview, “I really got to experience the way women show up for each other when crisis strikes. And, that’s really where this music came from — the shared experience of women, holding my hand and helping me find a safe place to put some of my feelings”. She works with an array of women on the album from guest singers to engineer Heba Kadry and illustrator Azeema Nur. Continue reading “EP Review: Anoushka Shankar – Love Letters”

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