The Wild Reeds released one of my favourites songs of 2017 – an ode to how music can save your life. The three voices and songwriters which make up the band are Kinsey Lee, Mackenzie Howe and Sharon Silva, all of whom understand how to convey a special kind of melancholic euphoria. Their terrific new album Cheers continues in this same vein, exploring anxiety, illness and how to cope with the crushing reality of life. Continue reading “Album Review: The Wild Reeds – Cheers”
In the middle of the eternal debate about what defines the country music genre it’s interesting to consider some of these late seventies Dolly Parton albums. She aimed for the pop market but hoped to keep her country fanbase happy too. By 1977 Dolly was on her twentieth solo album in ten years. She’d written every style of country song you could think of. Pop music was limitless in a way that country music could never be – sonically and commercially. Dolly wanted the same success as Elvis or Elton John – not just an occasional cross over from the country charts. Jolene proved she could take country with her over to the mainstream and on Here You Come Again she again attempted to find a place in both worlds. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Here You Come Again (1977)”
Rock music is dead they say, and one glance at the charts or a festival lineup might lead you to believe the same thing. Funny that when I look for a rock album to listen to I can always find loads of good stuff, usually sung by women – from Honeyblood to Bully to Lucy Dacus to this new album SNAFU from alternative punk pop queens Potty Mouth. Rock music is alive and it still sounds fucking great. Continue reading “Album Review: Potty Mouth – Snafu”
If being ‘country’ is about where you’re from and how you sing then Maren Morris has a Texan twang which should be perfect the genre. Her debut single My Church promised much – here was a singer who could sell authentic sounding country pop in a radio-friendly way. When her debut album was released it divided critics, some of whom were disappointed by the more pop leanings of the rest of her music. Those who were less concerned with genre heard a confident young singer with a talent for catchy hooks, who has since managed to find herself a place on country radio despite the odds against women succeeding in that notoriously male-dominated format.
Her second album Girl comes after recent Grammy nominations in both the country and pop categories. The traditionalists will find little to get behind here, but those predicting a full jump to EDM after her crossover guest spot on Zedd’s ‘The Middle’ are wrong. Morris forges her own path with an appealing blend of country, pop and r’n’b. Continue reading “Album Review: Maren Morris – Girl”
It was a typically grey day in Glasgow but the Hydro was lit up in red, white and blue for the arrival of Nashville’s best for Country to Country festival. Now in its fourth full year in Scotland the event continues to grow in popularity (it certainly seemed to be busier than the equivalent Friday last year). This first night kicked off with some of the genre’s more traditional artists including Chris Stapleton, Lyle Lovett, Ashley McBryde and Drake White & The Big Fire. Continue reading “Live Review: Country to Country Festival, Glasgow 08/03/2019”
In her book Black Pearls, Daphne Duval Harrison identified the key themes of the blues genre, which included: death, Hell, injustice, love, men, murder, poverty, sadness, the supernatural, traveling, weariness, depression and disillusionment. On her second album Adia Victoria explores many of these ideas, filling the Silences with sometimes troubling but always intriguing music. For an artist like Victoria, the blues is not just history to be studied or a style to be replicated – it is the very lifeblood that simmers inside of her. Continue reading “Album Review: Adia Victoria – Silences”
In his introduction to ‘Notes on A Native Son’ James Baldwin declared, ‘I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much more than that. So are we all.’ Inspired by his work, Rhiannon Giddens initially brought together this group of musicians in order to try to reclaim the black female history of America. Once the project began she realised that it had become much more than just about telling the stories of the past; it became an expression of creative freedom conveying hope for the future too.
Giddens, with her collaborators Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell wrote and recorded these songs together at producer Dirk Powell’s studio in Louisiana (Kaia Kater was also invited but unable to attend due to scheduling). Mixing originals with songs inspired by historic folk music and stories the result is an astonishingly powerful, and listenable, piece of art. Continue reading “Our Native Daughters – Songs Of Our Native Daughters”
Dolly, Aretha, Loretta, Dionne, Tammy, Dusty – the biggest stars in country and soul music are all recognisable by their distinctive first names. The musical spirit of these artists has been channeled into this new album ‘Walk Through Fire’ by rising star Yola, whose similarly unique first name is already familiar to Americana fans in the U.K. With her appealing blend of musical styles and charismatic voice Yola is surely poised to capture the hearts of listeners everywhere in 2019. Continue reading “Album Review: Yola – Walk Through Fire”
Oklahoma songwriter Kalyn Fay has worked with artists like Kaia Kater and Carter Sampson and is now releasing her second album Good Company – a collection of songs she calls a ‘love letter to the place I have known best’. The album contains delicate Americana-inspired songs about home, travel, self-discovery and change, showcasing Fay’s wonderfully wise voice. Continue reading “Album Review: Kalyn Fay – Good Company”