Album Review: I’m With Her – See You Around

Aoife O’Donovan, Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz first played together in a bathroom at a bluegrass festival a few years ago, and immediately realised the musical harmony they created was something special. Soon after they formed a group, adopted the name I’m With Her, playing shows and eventually finding time to write songs.

Then something strange happened. Purely by coincidence the band name became the slogan for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Overnight they were a hashtag. For a project that had barely begun to suddenly be associated with something so politically significant must have been surreal. The band themselves appear to be quick to distance themselves from the connection, but at the same time it would have been easy enough for them to record under a different name. ‘I’m With Her’ now reads like a declaration of unity and I’ll See You Around proves how strong you can be when you work together.

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Album Review: Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It

Back home in her native Australia Ruby Boots, real name Bex Chilcott, found few opportunities for the blend of classic rock and Americana she was playing so she decided to up-sticks and move to Nashville. Since then she’s been frustrated by the assumption that because she lives in Music City she must be a country singer. Signing with Bloodshot Records based out of Chicago has given her freedom to push her music beyond such genre limitations and Don’t Talk About It is a confident collection of killer tunes. Continue reading “Album Review: Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It”

Album Review: H.C. McEntire – Lionheart

Despite being raised on the sound of country music and hymns H.C. McEntire’s musical career actually began with her playing in punk bands, before eventually forming her alt-country group Mount Moriah. This debut solo album comes after McEntire spent time recently touring as part of Angel Olsen’s band. Lionheart is a quiet roar of a record, nine songs of experience which embrace a rich Americana sound. Continue reading “Album Review: H.C. McEntire – Lionheart”

Album Review: First Aid Kit – Ruins

The word Ruins suggests the destruction of something but at the same time what’s left behind can be valuable too – a glimpse of the past to help us understand where we come from, where we’ve been, who we once were. This new album from First Aid Kit was written after a difficult period personally and professionally when sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg had begun living apart for the first time. It’s an album about heartbreak, growing up and making mistakes, and while it’s true this band have always had wisdom beyond their years, Ruins is filled with a sense of grace and hard won maturity. Continue reading “Album Review: First Aid Kit – Ruins”

Album Review: Caitlyn Smith – Starfire

There’s been some brilliant albums by renowned Nashville songwriters released recently, as though now is the time for the real talent to step out from the shadows. Albums by Natalie Hemby, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose were quiet, understated affairs but Starfire by Caitlyn Smith has the confidence and bravado of a true performer, with vocals so stunning you find yourself thinking back to the first time you heard Chris Stapleton in terms of the command she has of her instrument. How this woman is only now releasing her debut album when she’s in her thirties seems utterly incredible. Continue reading “Album Review: Caitlyn Smith – Starfire”

Album Review: Lo Carmen – Lovers Dreamers Fighters

Australian singer Lo Carmen recorded her sixth album Lovers Dreamers Fighters in the Butcher Shoppe studio in Nashville, working with David ‘Ferg’ Ferguson (who has also recently engineered Sturgill Simpson’s album). Together with a host of fantastic musicians including Dave Roe, Matt Combs, Russ Pahl plus guests Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Emma Swift she has created one of the most distinctive Americana albums of the year.  Continue reading “Album Review: Lo Carmen – Lovers Dreamers Fighters”

Album Review: Lucinda Williams – This Sweet Old World

Pitchfork do a lot of things wrong but their article written a few years back about Lucinda Williams was an illuminating assessment of her career, expertly analysing why she remains one of the most overlooked and underrated artists in music today. In the constant search for new voices, new talent, new narratives we don’t stop to appreciate those who have been consistently producing quality music for years. The writer asked the simple question: why go looking for the new Lucinda Williams when she’s still out there playing live and releasing some of the best work of her career?

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Album Review: Dori Freeman – Letters Never Read

Some people are always pushing forwards, blindly searching for what’s new in the aim of ‘progress’. Others prefer to stand still and look backwards to appreciate what’s come before. Folk musicians have always been concerned with keeping songs of the past alive, because they understand the power of history and memory. On Letters Never Read Dori Freeman continues the traditional Appalachian style of honest country music, expressing herself through simple heartfelt covers and original songs.

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Album Review: Lee Ann Womack – The Lonely, The Lonesome & the Gone

Lee Ann Womack had a long and successful mainstream country music career but a couple of years back she began releasing rootsier music that aligned itself more with what we loosely term Americana. She has been outspoken against the pop orientated sound coming out of Nashville right now, which immediately attracted me to her. Having never listened to her music before I came into this album with fresh ears and was instantly impressed. The Lonely, The Lonesome & the Gone is outstanding with quality songs and vocal performances throughout.

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