Dolly Parton’s Discography: Run Rose Run (2022)

Run Rose Run is a unique album in Dolly’s discography, being released simultaneously with a novel tie in of the same name, co-written with James Patterson. Essentially this is a novel (and soon to be a movie) soundtrack. Dolly has been working hard expanding the Dollyverse and promoting these two projects with multiple events online and even in person at South by Southwest.

Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Run Rose Run (2022)”

Album Review: Hailey Whitters – Raised

Spring is finally here and with it the release of one of the sunniest albums of the year, ‘Raised’ by Hailey Whitters. Fresh from wowing the crowds at C2C festival, Hailey is ready to bring back sweetness, light and humour to the country music genre. Raised is an ode to her country upbringing in Iowa, a reflection of where’s she from and a celebration of who she is at heart.

The kind of twee, cute and fun country music has been sorely lacking for the last few years. Kacey has gone over to the dark side of pop, the Chicks have got divorced and are wearing a lot of army gear and leather, even Little Big Town are singing sad songs about god and sexism. Step in a girl with ribbons, cute dresses and cowboy boots to brighten things up for a change.

Everything She Ain’t and Big Family are the kind of brilliantly catchy songs that sound effortless but feel like rare miracles. Theres also a great duet on here with American Aquarium’s BJ Barham called ‘Middle of America’ which is a slice of heartwarming heartland 90s country.

From lush and thoughtful songs like the title track Raised, which focus on who she is and where she came from, to more sassy takes on identity on Plain Jane we have an artist willing to be commercial while also experimenting a little with different styles. The Neon has a more obvious contemporary, radio friendly sound similar to what Maren Morris has perfected lately, albeit with added fiddle to keep things country.

Dolly is another obvious influence here, especially with lyrics about the contrast between your country upbringing and the big wide world. College Town explores the identity struggle of moving away to University and Pretty Boy offers kindness and compassion to those who don’t fit in.

Another highlight on here is Everybody Oughta which is a spin on the list song. Like many of the songs on here it is reminiscent of early Kacey in tone and there’s also a couple of songs about smoking weed and drinking beer to add to the High Times style fun. Hailey owes her a debt musically for sure but there’s none of Kacey’s cynical, eye rolling personality in the lyrics which keeps these songs fresh.

In fact Boys Back Home and In a Field Somewhere are so glossy and rose-tinted they sound like a fantastical dream. Well times have been so bad lately you can’t help wanting to look back at simpler, happier days. Sentimental hearts need sustenance too.

Raised may be too cheerful and commercial for some. Maybe it does lack a bit of bite and originality but honestly when the songs are this enjoyable I find it hard to see that as a negative. A ray of light is still a welcome sight even if you’ve seen it before many times. Shine on, Hailey.

Live Review: Miranda Lambert & Country to Country Festival, Glasgow Hydro 13/03/22

After three long and turbulent years C2C festival finally made its welcome return to Glasgow this past weekend. Two years ago it suffered from being the first of the major covid cancellations. Last year’s festival was also postponed, since the date hit right during the second wave. Many fans still had tickets from two years ago – for a completely different line up. The fact that this 2022 festival went on without a hitch is a miracle. Credit to all involved for bringing us Scottish fans a much needed booster dose of country music. Continue reading “Live Review: Miranda Lambert & Country to Country Festival, Glasgow Hydro 13/03/22”

Album Review: Pistol Annies – Hell of a Holiday

For me the best Christmas music contains truths about the emotional complexity of the season: from the drunken conflict of Fairytale of New York to the aching sadness of River by Joni Mitchell. Too many recent Christmas albums seem content with cliched offerings or weak cover versions of classics designed to capitalise on the streaming algorithm, rather than having anything meaningful to say about the season.

Luckily for us then our resident reality check heroines Pistol Annies are here to offer us something fresh with their brilliant new Christmas album Hell of a Holiday. We last found Miranda Lambert, Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe on the Interstate Gospel, searching for comfort in Jesus and dealing with heartbreak, inertia and family trouble. Christmas then, being the time of year where women and relationships are stretched to the limit, is a natural fit for their songwriting skills. Continue reading “Album Review: Pistol Annies – Hell of a Holiday”

Album Review: Carly Pearce – 29: Written in Stone

During the recent nominations ceremony for the upcoming Grammy awards there was one notable absentee from the country categories – Carly Pearce. Perhaps her snub was even more obvious since they’d invited her to present some of the nominations on the telecast, which is usually an indication of future success. Many fans took to twitter to highlight the injustice, underlining the fact that, with or without award nominations, 2021 has been a fantastic year for the woman from Kentucky. Continue reading “Album Review: Carly Pearce – 29: Written in Stone”

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)”

Album Review: Kacey Musgraves – star-crossed

In her recent New York Times interview Kacey Musgraves joked that she ‘wasn’t going to be a real country artist without at least one divorce under my belt’. That’s the kind of self deprecating, knowing humour which she sprinkled through her first three albums, culminating in her triumphant success at the Grammys in 2019.

Golden Hour was strikingly original, hugely influential and every single song on that album could have been a radio hit. The fact the Grammys understood its power more than country radio tells you why she had to leave that genre behind. Mainstream country is a lost cause, more so now than ever – it’s become such a difficult place for most progressive female artists I’m just glad that some of them get out of there alive. Take country with you but dear god don’t look back.

star-crossed works best when listened to as a whole and indeed as a sequel – a splintering to what came before. Despite the light modern production this album strangely feels less commercial, with fewer big hooks and melodies. After the Golden Hour faded Kacey sounds like she got high and disappeared into the clouds. Blur the pain away. Continue reading “Album Review: Kacey Musgraves – star-crossed”

Album Review: Charlie Marie – Ramble On

On Charlie Marie’s 2019 EP she sang about how ‘everywhere’s got a countryside’, channeling Patsy Cline and gathering some well deserved online buzz. Due to the pandemic it has taken a couple of years for her to release this debut album but it is more than worth the wait. Ramble On is a welcome journey through the classic country sound with lots of witty wordplay. Continue reading “Album Review: Charlie Marie – Ramble On”

Album Review: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall – The Marfa Tapes

Out here you’ve got nothing else to lean on…you’ve got sky, desert, emotion.’ The here is Marfa, Texas. Last year Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall and Jack Ingram escaped to their hideaway searching for solace, sunsets and songs. The results are The Marfa Tapes, a bare bones collection which beautifully evokes a place out of time. Continue reading “Album Review: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall – The Marfa Tapes”

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