On a freezing January evening there is nothing more restoring to the soul and the spirit than a night of brilliant music, courtesy of the wonderful Celtic Connections festival. Returning to Glasgow after many covid postponements Sierra Hull and Rachel Baiman brought the best of Nashville musicianship to Scottish shores and were greeted warmly by a sold-out and appreciative crowd of folk music lovers.Continue reading “Live Review: Sierra Hull & Rachel Baiman @ Celtic Connections”
Dolly Parton’s Discography: Little Sparrow (2001)
On Dolly’s album ‘Eagle When She Flies’ the sparrow of the title song was broken, small, defeated in comparison with the soaring majesty of the bird of prey. Here on her second full length bluegrass album Little Sparrow, the title track takes that idea further with the sparrow as a symbol of femininity, fragility, which men ‘crush’.
‘The sorrow never ends,’ Dolly sings with an understanding of the tragedy of a woman’s life. Musically this melody was adapted from an old folk song. Her voice is quietly hushed, the music a haunting tale of heartbreak. She has a confidence in her vision on these albums and with the help of the excellent band she realises it with stunning authenticity and immediacy.
The photos for this album were shot by Jim Harrington who recalls that Dolly wanted a ‘grittier…back-to-her-roots’ aesthetic. He shot the pictures in a cabin outside of Nashville, creating an eerie out of time kind of atmosphere. Dolly leans on the ‘blue’ of the genre here, singing a darker, more reflective take on the genre. In fact Dolly called the album ‘blue mountain music’. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Little Sparrow (2001)”
Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Grass is Blue (1999)
‘I had to get rich so I could sing like I was poor,’ Dolly famously joked about ‘The Grass is Blue’ released in 1999. While Dolly had the mountains in her veins and her voice from the start, there was always a sprinkling of razzle dazzle pop rhinestones on her country banjo. Traditional bluegrass may have influenced her songwriting but this would be her first full length embrace of the genre, earning a Grammy for ‘Best Bluegrass Album’. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Grass is Blue (1999)”
Album Review: Bronwyn Keith-Hynes – Fiddler’s Pastime
The sweet, sweet sound of the fiddle contains the soul and spirit of folk music in one perfect instrument. Fiddler Bronwyn Keith-Hynes plays bluegrass music which understands the traditions of the instrument’s past but she isn’t afraid to cut loose and find her own path too. Continue reading “Album Review: Bronwyn Keith-Hynes – Fiddler’s Pastime”
Album Review: Della Mae – Headlight
The new Della Mae album ‘Headlight’ is one of those rare albums that encapsulates everything that this blog stands for and hopes to promote, conveying the collective power of women’s voices through emotional and empathetic songs. The writing and musicianship from the band, made up of lead vocalist and guitarist Celia Woodsmith, fiddle player Kimber Ludiker and mandolinist Jenni Lynn Gardner, is pure quality throughout. Continue reading “Album Review: Della Mae – Headlight”
Live Review: Kaia Kater & Rachel Baiman @ Celtic Connections
On a frosty evening in January what better way to thaw out than listening to some fine folk music from some of the genre’s most interesting young talents. Kaia Kater had impressed the crowd earlier in the week supporting Rhiannon Giddens and the audience who came to see her at the stunning St Andrews in the Square venue were also lucky enough to hear the infectious talents of Rachel Baiman and her band. Continue reading “Live Review: Kaia Kater & Rachel Baiman @ Celtic Connections”
E.P. Review: Rachel Baiman – Thanksgiving
Rachel Baiman released one of my favourite songs of last year, the stunning Shame from the album of the same name, which exposed the hypocrisy of men and religion in a fiery three minutes. On this follow EP, Thanksgiving, she continues to explore modern life and ideas, in an old timey folk style. The honesty and urgency of her message and music is as engaging as ever. Continue reading “E.P. Review: Rachel Baiman – Thanksgiving”
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.
Continue reading “Album Review: I’m With Her – See You Around”
Album Review: Wild Ponies – Galax
Telisha and Doug Williams of Wild Ponies are now based in Nashville but have a deep connection to Galax in South West Virginia, famous for hosting the Old Fiddlers Bluegrass Festival. The married duo decided to record this album in a shed behind Doug’s grandfather’s farm in Galax, combining talented local musicians with professionals from Music City. One listen to Galax and you are there, talking a walk through those fields, heading towards the sound of some of the sweetest music you’ve ever heard. Continue reading “Album Review: Wild Ponies – Galax”