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)”
After moving to Nashville in the early 2000s, Miko Marks found breaking into country music an impossible struggle. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone she explained, ‘I was young and I was bright-eyed and I was thinking ‘You have this skill set, there’s no way you can’t make it in this town.’ Her naive optimism would soon be crushed by the reality of an industry, and an audience, unwilling or unable to go beyond their own narrow idea of what a country singer could be.
After moving back to the west coast Miko kept performing but only recently returned to recording, inspired by recent efforts to change the conversation in the industry. Interesting, but not surprising, then that she has chosen to go beyond the genre with the scope of this great new album Our Country. Continue reading “Album Review: Miko Marks & The Resurrectors – Our Country”
In her illuminating autobiography ‘First Time Ever’, Peggy Seeger tells the story of her life and the history of folk music itself. Her family were legendary musicians and she explores the importance of that inheritance and how to keep the purpose of the genre alive today:
‘We need to capture the public imagination, sing to the fence-sitters, bring factions together…Let’s stop complaining and write – with as few clichés as possible – about hope, compassion, gratitude, cohesion and, above all, action. Sounds simple. It is.’
Her new album ‘First Farewell’ makes a bold attempt to live by this statement of intent. You can’t help but be impressed and inspired by this eighty five year old’s assertive musical ambition and deeply felt songwriting. Continue reading “Album Review: Peggy Seeger – First Farewell”
‘Safe Distance’ is Janet Simpson’s first solo release since the nineties, although she’s kept busy with bands and projects in the interim period. Fittingly enough the sound of this new record doesn’t veer too far from that decade, creating a loose and live style of Americana and indie rock throughout. Continue reading “Album Review: Janet Simpson – Safe Distance”
In the video for her new version of Coal Miner’s Daughter, Loretta Lynn swings on a porch seat, speaking the words to her most famous song with a blissful contentment that comes from a life well lived. Compared to other country legends at similar points in their career (see the existential crisis of Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’) Loretta appears serene.
That old cabin in Butcher Hollow she speaks of is from another century, another world long gone. Now she is a queen on a throne, almost ready to pass her title to those successors in waiting but not quite done ruling her kingdom just yet. Her crown rests lightly on the arm, the glitz of her ballgown and jewellery as dazzling as her defiant stare. The signature guitar at her side, Loretta looks ‘Still Woman Enough’ to reign supreme. Continue reading “Album Review: Loretta Lynn – Still Woman Enough”
After releasing her prescient, apocalyptic masterpiece Norman Fucking Rockwell! Lana Del Rey received a torrent of critical acclaim for the album and critical attacks for her social media posts. Such is the circle game of the internet. Lana preempted the potential reaction to her follow up album by announcing that she felt sorry for it in advance, knowing it could never match up to its older sibling. In the end she shouldn’t have worried. Chemtrails Over the Country Club is cool, confident and content in its own skin. Continue reading “Album Review: Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Country Club”
Why can’t back when happen again? Asks Melissa Carper on her new album, a question which could refer to bringing back the good old days musically as well as reigniting old flames. With its vintage country and western sound Daddy’s Country Gold shows that sometimes history repeats in the best kind of ways. Continue reading “Album Review: Melissa Carper – Daddy’s Country Gold”
Vivian Leva’s last album ‘Time is Everything’ was an underrated folk country gem and on this new self-titled album she promotes her previous collaborator Riley Calcagno to equal billing. You sense the deep musical and songwriting connection between the duo, who together have created an authentic, effortless country sound. Continue reading “Album Review: Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno”