For Mavis Staples’s 80th birthday the great and the good from across the musical spectrum came together in three concerts that celebrated the legacy of an artist who has been bringing light to the world for decades and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. As a force for harmony and unity there are few who can touch her. She’s skateboarding her way into the twilight of her career with more confidence than ever. Continue reading “Album Review: Mavis Staples – We Get By”
Since the release of her solo album Walk Through Fire earlier this year Yola has been winning fans and admirers on both sides of the Atlantic. As well as support from Radio 2, she has been receiving rave reviews across the board and will tour later in the year supporting Kacey Musgraves.
As everyone took their seats on the gorgeous spring evening there was a real buzz of anticipation and happiness in the air. St Luke’s is the best venue in Glasgow – the church acoustics never fail to showcase a singer to the best of their ability. Continue reading “Live Review: Yola with Lady Nade @ St Luke’s, Glasgow”
There’s a delightfully delicious dark side to this new self-titled album from Steel Blossoms. Singers Hayley Prosser and Sara Zebley often have their tongue in their cheek, and they know that traditional country music is the perfect place to really put such dry humour to good use. By not taking themselves too seriously the duo have made one of the most entertaining albums of the year. Continue reading “Album Review: Steel Blossoms”
Rhiannon Giddens collects songs, instruments and stories from all through history and synthesises them perfectly with her modern musical purpose. She believes in teaching us the failings of the past, to better understand our present. On her new album she has paired up with Italian virtuoso musician Francesco Turrisi, someone who shares her connection with folk music history, with his expertise in Islamic, Mediterranean and eastern styles. By pairing together on this album ‘there is no Other‘ (capitalisation deliberate) they want to show that no matter where we come from we are all one voice, one history, one future.
After the dramatic dissolution of her band The Civil Wars, Joy Williams seemed like an artist searching for herself. Before those fractious and fiery albums of absorbing Americana she had been a contemporary gospel singer, offering polite pop prayers. To many fans unfamiliar with her earlier work, her 2015 solo synth pop album ‘Venus’ sounded not just a like an evolution of her sound but an entirely different artist. So this new album ‘Front Porch’ is a welcome reset of her musical style and a quiet return to form. Continue reading “Album Review: Joy Williams – Front Porch”
When I started this blog in 2017 my aim was just to share music I loved with anyone that cared to listen but another, equally important purpose was to discover new artists for myself too. One such gem is Caroline Spence, who came to my attention through a recommendation from one of my Twitter followers. I listened to her album ‘Spades and Roses’ and loved it immediately, especially ‘Softball’ which is fast becoming something of a feminist Americana anthem. So please allow me to pay the recommendation forward by telling you that Caroline’s new album ‘Mint Condition’, is one of the best releases of the year so far.
Shovels & Rope launched their new album By Blood during the week of their triumphant High Water Festival homecoming. The band have recently had a second child so it’s no surprise really that at times on this album they sound run ragged, desperate and depressed, other times as exhilarated and euphoric as they ever have. The musical chemistry between Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent appears closer than ever – bonded by their family and the blood of these songs that pulsate through their veins. Continue reading “Album Review: Shovels & Rope – By Blood”
If I could design my own festival then it would look much like High Water Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Compact and curated by local legends Shovels and Rope it appeals to grown ups who want a blissful weekend of diverse music. The joy of this well-organised festival is that staggered stage times allow you to see every artist on the bill – meaning there’s not a lull in proceedings the whole weekend. The site lay out is simple, easily navigated and offering space for everyone. Even the VIP section, which I am naturally opposed to, was set up in such a way as not to affect the rest of the crowd. Continue reading “Live Review: High Water Festival 2019, Charleston, SC”
A few weeks back I listened to Zane Lowe interview Jenny Lewis about her new album On The Line – an interview in which he spent most of the time discussing the men featured on this record, rather than Jenny herself. Even after everything Jenny Lewis had achieved she was still being considered in terms of who she was working with, rather than on her own merits. The recent revelations about one of the producers of this record have threatened to further overshadow this release. So it is pretty wonderful to report that most of the reviews and features written about On The Line have focused on Jenny’s music, life and legacy (unsurprisingly most of these have been written by women).
The fact that Jenny’s music has been so universally celebrated is important. Not every women artist gets that recognition and attention. What then can the humble blogger really contribute to this discussion you might wonder, when there are so many incisive and illuminating discussions of this album already out there? To be honest I have spent the last week wondering the same thing myself. I recently reviewed the new album by The Wild Reeds (whose music owes a debt to Jenny for sure) and I felt confident that it was important I wrote about an album that had received few other online reviews. In contrast there doesn’t seem much more I can add to the already determined facts about On The Line: this is indeed a brilliant album and some of the best work of Jenny’s career. But then I heard Jenny’s voice singing to me ‘do something, while your heart is thumping’ so I decided just to write anyway. Continue reading “Album Review: Jenny Lewis – On The Line”