After her brilliant 2018 album America’s Child, blues singer Shemekia Copeland continues her blistering take on the state of her country with her new album Uncivil War. Working again with Will Kimbrough and her longtime collaborator John Hahn has resulted in a timely collection of protest songs about the way we live now. Continue reading “Album Review: Shemekia Copeland – Uncivil War”
Back in February, a lifetime ago, I was lucky enough to see Kelsey Waldon play live on a stormy evening in Glasgow. The rain that night was almost apocalyptic, leaking through the roof onto the stage and into the crowd. Even with the freezing temperatures and cramped venue there was a collective sense of joy and appreciation for the artists who’d travelled so far to play for us. We were all so blissfully naive about what the rest of the year was to bring.
Kelsey’s performance that evening was raw, intimate, intense. I’d liked her album White Noise / White Lines but live I connected to the songs on another level, in a way that is only possible when listening to someone sing in person. Until live music returns we have to try and find that same connection through the speakers, the screens, social media. It’s not enough but it’s all we have.
For the artists cut off from touring you feel deeply concerned for how their livelihoods have been snatched away and yet this year has also allowed for a pause and a focus on other projects. During a turbulent time politically Waldon has recorded this brilliant EP of cover songs which speak directly to the dark heart of the American experience. Continue reading “EP Review: Kelsey Waldon – They’ll Never Keep Us Down”
Recording her new album My Echo with her husband as the producer, while going through couples therapy which lead to an eventual divorce must have added more than a little tension to this new project by Laura Veirs.
However unlike say the Chicks angry and vengeful divorce epic Gaslighter, My Echo does not take aim at her partner, instead turning the disquieting feelings inwards. She accepts the crumbling reality of life and love, transforming her feelings into a quietly moving collection of songs. Continue reading “Album Review: Laura Veirs – My Echo”
Like her fellow Scandinavian sisters First Aid Kit before her, Norway’s Malin Pettersen grew up with a wanderlust for America and a deep love for its music. Her new album Wildhorse was recorded and mixed in Nashville and every song conveys an angelic Americana sound that would make even the toughest of cowboys swoon. Continue reading “Album Review: Malin Pettersen – Wildhorse”
After going through personal and professional divorces, Lydia Loveless returns with her new album ‘Daughter’. Change becomes her, allowing for her world weary voice to echo bruised truths in the listeners ears. There will be no miracle rebirth or transformation here. Instead she knows that to move forward in life is to understand yourself for better, or worse. Continue reading “Album Review: Lydia Loveless – Daughter”
Some artists have so much energy and talent that recorded music can barely convey or contain them. This fact is true of husband and wife duo Tanya and Michael Trotter, known as The War and Treaty, whose joyful, uplifting musical spirit has to be witnessed in real life to fully comprehend. To say I’m a true believer doesn’t even cover it.
Their debut album ‘The Healing Tide’ was a delightful mix of vintage soul and Americana that brimmed with the effervescent energy and vocal star power of the duo. Hearts Town, their wonderful new album, takes us to a place where pain is understood, music heals and there’s always another chance to begin again. Continue reading “Album Review: The War & Treaty – Hearts Town”
Imagine a cool breeze across a field on a summer’s day, taking a walk that leads you straight into the past where everyone lives a simple life on the land and plays music gathered around an open, flickering fire. Welcome to the sound of Brennen Leigh’s ‘Prairie Love Letter’. Continue reading “Album Review- Brennen Leigh – Prairie Love Letter”
Ashley Ray was raised on a farm in Lawrence, Kansas before moving to Nashville to study and pursue her dream of a career in music. Her brilliant new album ‘Pauline’ is named after her grandmother, and her own middle name. Across these ten songs she delves deep into her family history, with powerful and poignant results. Continue reading “Album Review: Ashley Ray – Pauline”
In his Nobel Prize acceptance lecture Bob Dylan discussed how he first began learning old folk songs, eventually internalising them into his own songwriting. ‘You hear all the finer points, and you learn the details,’ he explained. By singing these songs he discovered ‘the devices, the techniques, the secrets, the mysteries’, concluding that ‘songs are alive in the land of the living’. Old songs are meant not just to be heard, but to be sung anew by the next generations.
Emma Swift began ‘Blonde on the Tracks‘, her project of Dylan covers, as a way to recover her artistic inspiration after experiencing depression. Mainly recorded in 2017 these versions were not even intended to be an album but when the pandemic destroyed Swift’s plans for touring she decided to release the recordings. Continue reading “Album Review: Emma Swift – Blonde on the Tracks”