Live Review: Sierra Hull & Rachel Baiman @ Celtic Connections

On a freezing January evening there is nothing more restoring to the soul and the spirit than a night of brilliant music, courtesy of the wonderful Celtic Connections festival. Returning to Glasgow after many covid postponements Sierra Hull and Rachel Baiman brought the best of Nashville musicianship to Scottish shores and were greeted warmly by a sold-out and appreciative crowd of folk music lovers.

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Album Review: Miko Marks & the Resurrectors – Feel Like Going Home

Miko Marks’s last release ‘Our Country’ was a welcome return for an artist who had suffered setbacks in her country music career, never finding the opportunities or success her talent deserved. That album was a classic mix of country, soul and gospel influences showcasing an artist who had renewed hope for a late career resurrection.

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Album Review: S.G. Goodman – Teeth Marks

S.G. Goodman was born and raised in Kentucky, a place which burns through her voice and her words. But her music isn’t of the mountains and the wide open countryside, it’s in the grime of these places, the claustrophobia, the endless emptiness of the void. Emotional pain and destruction thrives in these darkened backwaters, quiet hope trying to find a way to appear among the rolling clouds.

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Book Review: ‘Maybe We’ll Make It’ by Margo Price

Margo Price’s debut album ‘Mid-West Farmer’s Daughter’ told the story of a harrowing, hard-fought struggle to make it in the music industry, exploring grief, marriage, poverty, addiction, prison and the desperation of depression.

That story is recounted in her stunning new memoir ‘Maybe We’ll Make It’, an unflinching and unapologetic manifesto of personal and artistic freedom.

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Album Recommendation: Caitlin Rose – Cazimi

Reading the recent Guardian interview with Caitlin Rose was revealing, but not in the way you might expect. Here was an artist refusing to share her trauma or explain the personal reasons for the nine year gap between records. In an online world where oversharing is normalised (and monetised) the statement: I don’t think artists owe their stories, I think they owe music is radical and refreshing.

What Caitlin did share was that she has felt ‘stuck’ in her career. You can imagine then, how hard it must be to come back after a long time away. Seeing the endless, constant success of others paraded on social media can only add more doubt. Stasis is no surprise.

To break out Caitlin did something simple: she gave herself permission to stay in her ‘comfort zone’, connecting with friends who made her want to enjoy music again rather than aiming for something radically different. Old fans will recognise this artist immediately, with Cazimi reminding us what made her such an engaging voice in the first place.

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Album Review – Courtney Marie Andrews – Loose Future

Since starting this blog in 2017 Courtney Marie Andrews has released three studio albums, establishing herself as one of the most prolific women solo artists of the moment. Each album has been searching, both inwardly and outwardly for a better, more honest life. Musically too she has explored the darkness and the light, touching the edges of genres and influences, weaving her stories into melodies that feel effortless and essential.

Some fans may be worried that this level of productivity suggests she is stuck in the hamster wheel of the music industry content churn (with the consequent inevitable burnout). Luckily for us listeners Loose Future feels more like an exhale. The album is perhaps less sonically ambitious than ‘May Your Kindness Remain’ or emotionally fraught as ‘Old Flowers’ but that well…looseness…feels freeing and refreshing.

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Album Review: Nikki Lane – Denim and Diamonds

‘Making a record with Nikki Lane saved my life. Her songs about life, love, loss and just plain picking yourself up to go for another round in the ring…helped me do the same,’ Josh Homme declared on Instagram last week, a sentiment which honours the power of the Highway Queen herself and also references the trouble he’s been in lately. Truly I know how he feels, since I started this blog five years ago during a particularly low point in my life, after being inspired by Nikki’s spirit, attitude and musical style.

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Album Review: Amy Ray – If It All Goes South

At the Americana awards in Nashville this week the Indigo Girls were recognised with the Spirit of Americana/ Free Speech in music award for lifetime achievement as songwriters and activists. Brandi Carlile introduced the award by describing the duo as ‘heroes who are still paving the way…for the people and of the people.’

Amy accepted the award with a speech echoing the sentiment Joan Baez once expressed to her: ‘I’m not going to pass my torch to anyone…I’m going to hang on to it and help others light theirs. We all need to keep that flame of social justice alive.’ It was a powerful statement of continued intent from a duo who have quietly blazed a trail for LGBT musicians for decades.

Amy embraces her Americana roots on this excellent solo album, working with an array of friends and collaborators who understand the power of community. Written during the pandemic, If It All Goes South offers solace and hope for turbulent times.

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