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.

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Album Review: Shannon Shaw – Shannon In Nashville

Shannon Shaw and her band The Clams have been producing great garage rockabilly albums since their debut in 2009. Now stepping out on her own for this solo album, Shaw is embracing a more polished sound inspired by a mix of soul, classic girl groups and vintage pop. Produced by label boss Dan Auerbach ‘Shannon in Nashville’ is a dramatic and engaging collection of songs which display a real raw vocal talent. Continue reading “Album Review: Shannon Shaw – Shannon In Nashville”

Why Thelma Houston’s ‘Sunshower’ Still Shines

In the late sixties Jimmy Webb had just written Wichita Lineman for Glen Campbell when he began working with Thelma Houston, a woman he declared to be ‘the most prodigious talent I have ever encountered.’ Now mainly remembered for her disco hit Don’t Leave Me This Way, Thelma Houston’s performance on the Sunshower album shows a singer of distinctive depth, who was willing to experiment with style and genre. Webb’s music was a mix of gospel flourishes, lush orchestral arrangements and yes even a hint of country music. This album remains an underrated and overlooked classic which displays the ambitious nature of both songwriter and singer. Continue reading “Why Thelma Houston’s ‘Sunshower’ Still Shines”

Album Review: Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

 

In the emotion picture which accompanies Janelle Monáe’s new album Dirty Computer she is hunted by people who want to assimilate her, dress her in white and wipe her memory clean. Love, music, colour and self-expression are silenced in this eerily realistic dystopian future. This ambitious concept album and film proves that expressing your true self takes more than courage, sometimes you have to rebel against the very fabric of society itself. Continue reading “Album Review: Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer”

How She & Him, Kesha and Valerie June are Among Artists Helping To Spread Universal Love

This week She & Him released two new singles with little fanfare or publicity, matching the understated way Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have gone about their musical pairing since the start. And despite their quiet nature these two songs deserve our attention for their groundbreaking approach to inclusive songwriting. Continue reading “How She & Him, Kesha and Valerie June are Among Artists Helping To Spread Universal Love”

Album Review: Kylie – Golden

As a kid growing up in the 80s Kylie was my first musical love. I had all her tapes and spent many an hour dancing round the kitchen to her hits. Even as I became a 90s teen who listened to indie music Kylie came with me, releasing Confide in Me and then working with my favourite band Manic Street Preachers on her hugely underrated album Impossible Princess. When she went back to pop and had even more stratospheric success I couldn’t help but still love her and follow her career. So it feels strangely fitting that she has released the country-inspired album Golden now when I write a blog covering country music. Our stars always seem to align.

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