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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Album Review: Kelsey Waldon – No Regular Dog

Kelsey Waldon’s distinctive voice commands your attention, as though she’s looking you straight in the eye through the speakers. Choosing producer Shooter Jennings for this new record was a wise move considering his stellar work with Brandi Carlile, Tanya Tucker and the underrated Jaime Wyatt. No Regular Dog has a classic Americana sound, brimming with personality and a little extra bite.

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Album Review: Erin Rae – Lighten Up

Erin Rae’s last album ‘Putting on Airs’ was a slow burn for me, one that eventually became a warming fire which I returned to again and again. Her new album ‘Lighten Up’ with its title and imagery suggested a shift towards a more sunny disposition. As it turns out the title is more of a note to self, an encouragement, or even a plea. Looking on the bright side is not always an easy thing to do. Continue reading “Album Review: Erin Rae – Lighten Up”

Album Review: Aoife O’Donovan – Age of Apathy

Apathy is defined as a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern. Back in the nineties such feelings of such disconnect were actively cultivated as a way to cope with the madness of the world. Yet in the modern, hyper-connected new century we are constantly bombarded with an expectation that we actually care about everything. Sometimes that in itself takes its toll. On her new album Aoife O’Donovan wonders what it might be like to live in an ‘Age of Apathy’ where life and love are simple and free from the lingering malaise. Continue reading “Album Review: Aoife O’Donovan – Age of Apathy”

Album Review: Brandi Carlile – In These Silent Days

When Brandi Carlile won her Grammy for Best Americana album her speech was not just a moment of personal celebration, it was also a statement about the genre itself:

Americana music is the island of the misfit toys. I am such a misfit. It is this music that has shaped my life and made me who I am. I came out of the closet at 15 years old…and I can assure that you I was never invited to any parties and never got to attend a dance. To be embraced by this enduring & loving community has been the dance of a lifetime. Thank you for being my island.

To find a place where your difference makes you not an outcast but part of a kind and harmonious patchwork of people is not just what a musical genre can be, it’s an ideal that America, and the world itself, should strive for. A lifted lamp by the golden door. A welcome for all. Continue reading “Album Review: Brandi Carlile – In These Silent Days”

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