Album Review: Juanita Stein – Until The Lights Fade

With the release of her second album in a year Howling Bells’ lead singer Juanita Stein is certainly not hanging around in establishing herself as a solo act, having also toured with the likes of The Killers and Bryan Ferry. On this new album ‘Until The Lights Fade’ the dreamy Americana sound she created on her debut (one of my favourite albums of 2017) is combined with a return to her indie rock roots, resulting in a confident and catchy collection of songs. Continue reading “Album Review: Juanita Stein – Until The Lights Fade”

Album Review: Clare Bowen – Clare Bowen

The television series Nashville finished up its six series run earlier this year, and while I think it jumped the shark after they killed off a certain character, I still count myself a fan, in particular of the performances by Clare Bowen as Scarlett. Still I always had my doubts about whether anyone in the show actually wanted to make it in the music industry for real (and indeed whether they could cut it). Thankfully I’m pleased to say with this excellent self titled debut album Clare Bowen proves me dead wrong. This is an elegant collection of dreamy Americana, full of songs with something quietly interesting to say. Continue reading “Album Review: Clare Bowen – Clare Bowen”

Album Review: Shemekia Copeland – America’s Child

On ‘America’s Child’ Shemekia Copeland infuses blues, classic rock, country and soul music into songs which wrap traditional sounds around words reflecting the concerns of now. The magical voice of Copeland gives us all hope for a better future – we see that optimism reflected on the album cover where a little girl wears the American flag as a comfort blanket, even if her eyes are downcast you sense the potential of a new day in the warm glow of the sun behind her. Continue reading “Album Review: Shemekia Copeland – America’s Child”

Album Review: Lori McKenna – The Tree

Trees have long spoken to the souls of poets. Walt Whitman called them ‘palpably artistic, heroic’. Herman Hesse believed ‘Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.’ Marianne Moore once wrote a poem to save a tree’s life (it worked). Lori McKenna is a modern poet of American life so it is fitting to see her title her new album after those silent friends whose importance and beauty may sometimes go unnoticed. The Tree tell stories of the internal domestic lives and relationships of your average everyday people who have simple, quiet ambitions – the roots of which grow deep underground, much like these songs themselves. Continue reading “Album Review: Lori McKenna – The Tree”

Album Review: The War and Treaty – Healing Tide

Recently there has been much discussion about the definition of ‘Americana’ music and how the genre needs to be more inclusive of diverse voices beyond white male altcountry singers. Husband and wife duo The War & Treaty are therefore exactly what the Americana genre needs right now – combining gospel, soul, country, folk and blues to create a rootsy sound which references music history but makes it sound fresh again for the modern listener. Debut album Healing Tide is full of astonishing songs that speak to the heart of humanity, suggesting that a better, happier, more loving world is possible. Continue reading “Album Review: The War and Treaty – Healing Tide”

Album Review: Amanda Shires – To The Sunset

Amanda Shires’ music has always had a distinctive poetic vision and style that sets her apart from the average solo songwriters. On this new album To The Sunset she steps away from the acoustic sound of her last record to fully embrace the electric and unpredictable feel that was hinted at on some of her earlier releases. Working again with Americana super producer Dave Cobb these ten songs each feel like a vital progression of an artist who is reaching the pinnacle of her powers. Continue reading “Album Review: Amanda Shires – To The Sunset”

Album Review: Kendl Winter – Stumbler’s Business

To stumble is to almost make a mistake, to fall towards the wrong direction but save yourself just before it’s too late. In Stumbler’s Business, the new album by The Lowest Pair’s Kendl Winter, potential mistakes become moments of learning and growth. Musically the album is full of atmospheric banjo strumming which creates a dreamy folk sound. Continue reading “Album Review: Kendl Winter – Stumbler’s Business”

Live Review – Amythyst Kiah @ Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

Hailing from Johnson City, Tennessee Amythyst Kiah is a contemporary blues and folk singer, with a real connection to the history of Appalachian music. This was the second of her two shows at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues festival where she has successfully performed for the last three years. The audience in the Piccolo venue were treated to an evening of stories and songs from a troubadour of the highest quality. Continue reading “Live Review – Amythyst Kiah @ Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival”

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