Album Review: Jade Bird

When I reviewed Jade Bird’s EP Something American back in 2017 I admired her talent and was intrigued to see what direction her career would take. She was being marketed at the time as ‘country’ – which seemed like a bit of a stretch for a girl from England singing soft rock/pop. However Yola recently proved that it is possible to take such influences and make them sound authentic. Both artists have now been nominated as ‘Emerging Artist of the Year’ at the 2019 Americana awards, the first Brits to gain nominations in that category since Mumford & Sons in 2011. Continue reading “Album Review: Jade Bird”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Great Balls of Fire (1979)

Released in 1979 Great Balls of Fire is right in the middle of Dolly’s mainstream pop phase. She aims for the charts but ironically it is one of the few albums from this era without any real classic career-defining songs. It’s a continuation of her previous run of big budget albums but with ever diminishing returns you feel she’s stretching this seventies pop style to its limits. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Great Balls of Fire (1979)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Heartbreaker (1978)

After the platinum crossover smash success of ‘Here You Come Again’, Dolly decided to stick closely to that pop formula for her follow up album ‘Heartbreaker’, released July 1978. She was now being managed by Sandy Gallin, introduced to her by Mac Davis, and he again teamed her up with pop producers Charles Koppleman and Gary Klein. Dolly also received a production credit, showing how she was taking back control of her own career in the wake of her split with Porter. Another fact worth noting is that 1978 was the first year since 1967 where Dolly only released one album. The insane songwriting productivity and release schedule of the Porter Wagoner years was well and truly over. In the end Dolly didn’t need more than one album since Heartbreaker dominated the country charts, staying at number one for nine consecutive weeks. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Heartbreaker (1978)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Here You Come Again (1977)

In the middle of the eternal debate about what defines the country music genre it’s interesting to consider some of these late seventies Dolly Parton albums. She aimed for the pop market but hoped to keep her country fanbase happy too. By 1977 Dolly was on her twentieth solo album in ten years. She’d written every style of country song you could think of. Pop music was limitless in a way that country music could never be – sonically and commercially. Dolly wanted the same success as Elvis or Elton John – not just an occasional cross over from the country charts. Jolene proved she could take country with her over to the mainstream and on Here You Come Again she again attempted to find a place in both worlds. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Here You Come Again (1977)”

Album Review: Maren Morris – Girl

If being ‘country’ is about where you’re from and how you sing then Maren Morris has a Texan twang which should be perfect the genre. Her debut single My Church promised much – here was a singer who could sell authentic sounding country pop in a radio-friendly way. When her debut album was released it divided critics, some of whom were disappointed by the more pop leanings of the rest of her music. Those who were less concerned with genre heard a confident young singer with a talent for catchy hooks, who has since managed to find herself a place on country radio despite the odds against women succeeding in that notoriously male-dominated format.

Her second album Girl comes after recent Grammy nominations in both the country and pop categories. The traditionalists will find little to get behind here, but those predicting a full jump to EDM after her crossover guest spot on Zedd’s ‘The Middle’ are wrong. Morris forges her own path with an appealing blend of country, pop and r’n’b. Continue reading “Album Review: Maren Morris – Girl”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – ‘New Harvest…First Gathering’ Review

The title and the relaxed styling of Dolly’s hair and clothes on the cover of this album tells us immediately that something is different. Dolly may have written her goodbye song in 1974 but it wasn’t until this 1977 album New Harvest…First Gathering that she was finally free from Porter Wagoner’s involvement in her music and career. She produced the album herself and embraced the opportunity to push herself in a brand new musical direction. This album then also became her escape from the confines of country music itself. Dolly’s ambitions were to find a way into the mainstream, into the movies, into the ears of all music listeners. There was simply no way Porter, or country music itself, could contain her. And hey, when a horse wants to run there ain’t no point in closing the gates. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – ‘New Harvest…First Gathering’ Review”

Live Review: Clare Bowen @ Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

Clare Bowen has just finished a six season stint playing reluctant singer songwriter Scarlett O’Connor on the hit show Nashville and is now forging her own path in the music industry for real, leaving a trail of joy and glitter behind her. Last week she released her lovely debut album and arrived in Glasgow to perform as part of her first solo U.K. tour, backed by a band which included her husband, brother and long time Nashville music director Colin Linden. The show was a warm and friendly family affair, showcasing a singer with enough charisma and sparkle to light up any room. Continue reading “Live Review: Clare Bowen @ Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow”

Album Review: Clare Bowen – Clare Bowen

The television series Nashville finished up its six series run earlier this year, and while I think it jumped the shark after they killed off a certain character, I still count myself a fan, in particular of the performances by Clare Bowen as Scarlett. Still I always had my doubts about whether anyone in the show actually wanted to make it in the music industry for real (and indeed whether they could cut it). Thankfully I’m pleased to say with this excellent self titled debut album Clare Bowen proves me dead wrong. This is an elegant collection of dreamy Americana, full of songs with something quietly interesting to say. Continue reading “Album Review: Clare Bowen – Clare Bowen”

Film Review: ‘Whitney’

Since her premature death in 2012, Whitney Houston’s life has been the subject of films, articles, books and television shows but this documentary directed by Kevin MacDonald is the first to gain the cooperation of Whitney’s family. Despite a strong first half eventually this film falls into speculation, cheap gossip and outrageous accusations about her personal life and eventual death.

Continue reading “Film Review: ‘Whitney’”

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