‘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”
In his recent book about David Hockney, critic Martin Gayford described the artist as someone who ‘keeps doing the same thing, continually fired by the urge to do it differently and better…he is teaching us a lesson not only in how to see, but how to live.’ Dolly Parton has lived her life in the exact same way. Great art is found in the consistent creativity of hard work.
On first listen Hungry Again might sound like a retread of some of Dolly’s earlier ideas but connecting to her past is part of what has made her an icon. As she writes ‘Sometimes to know just how far you’ve traveled, you’ve got to go back to where you began’. The songs were written over a three month period spent between her lake house and childhood home, resulting in Dolly’s first album of entirely solo penned material in decades. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Hungry Again (1998)”
After moving to Nashville in the early 2000s, Miko Marks found breaking into country music an impossible struggle. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone she explained, ‘I was young and I was bright-eyed and I was thinking ‘You have this skill set, there’s no way you can’t make it in this town.’ Her naive optimism would soon be crushed by the reality of an industry, and an audience, unwilling or unable to go beyond their own narrow idea of what a country singer could be.
After moving back to the west coast Miko kept performing but only recently returned to recording, inspired by recent efforts to change the conversation in the industry. Interesting, but not surprising, then that she has chosen to go beyond the genre with the scope of this great new album Our Country. Continue reading “Album Review: Miko Marks & The Resurrectors – Our Country”
In the video for her new version of Coal Miner’s Daughter, Loretta Lynn swings on a porch seat, speaking the words to her most famous song with a blissful contentment that comes from a life well lived. Compared to other country legends at similar points in their career (see the existential crisis of Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’) Loretta appears serene.
That old cabin in Butcher Hollow she speaks of is from another century, another world long gone. Now she is a queen on a throne, almost ready to pass her title to those successors in waiting but not quite done ruling her kingdom just yet. Her crown rests lightly on the arm, the glitz of her ballgown and jewellery as dazzling as her defiant stare. The signature guitar at her side, Loretta looks ‘Still Woman Enough’ to reign supreme. Continue reading “Album Review: Loretta Lynn – Still Woman Enough”
Why can’t back when happen again? Asks Melissa Carper on her new album, a question which could refer to bringing back the good old days musically as well as reigniting old flames. With its vintage country and western sound Daddy’s Country Gold shows that sometimes history repeats in the best kind of ways. Continue reading “Album Review: Melissa Carper – Daddy’s Country Gold”
Vivian Leva’s last album ‘Time is Everything’ was an underrated folk country gem and on this new self-titled album she promotes her previous collaborator Riley Calcagno to equal billing. You sense the deep musical and songwriting connection between the duo, who together have created an authentic, effortless country sound. Continue reading “Album Review: Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno”
Olivia Ellen Lloyd describes her sound as ‘country music with feelings’, embracing the traditional, original intent of the genre before it got hijacked by pop music production and lyrics devoid of any kind of meaning beyond beer, trucks and saying the word ‘girl’ repeatedly. Originally from West Virginia and now based in Brooklyn, her new album Loose Cannon is a collection of brilliant sounding songs which deal thoughtfully with themes of loss, identity and sorrow. Continue reading “Album Review: Olivia Ellen Lloyd – Loose Cannon”
Dolly released her third Christmas album last year to great success, even if the pandemic year was not the most opportune timing for an album full of Yuletide cheer. Her first Christmas album was Once Upon a Christmas – a fun collaboration with Kenny Rogers released in 1984. Home for Christmas released in 1990 is composed of Christmas standards, rather than the originals which made up half of her album with Kenny. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Home For Christmas (1990)”
In her 1982 song ‘Hard Candy Christmas’ Dolly sang of enduring a difficult time where she was ‘barely getting through’. That song with its message about not letting sorrow get you down feels like the realistic Christmas anthem we need for 2020.
In contrast A Holly Dolly Christmas, Dolly’s third Christmas album, is free from any hints of the pain and strife we’ve all endured this year. It’s a red bow and a sparkling smile, throwing glitter and sparkles at you throughout. Forget your troubles, come on be happy. Dolly’s current incarnation is a fairy godmother of joy, with not even a moment of despair allowed to darken the delights, even though she made her name on songs which cut to the heart of the bittersweet pain of real life. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: A Holly Dolly Christmas (2020)”