1983 was a year that brought Dolly more crossover chart success thanks to her duet Islands in the Stream with Kenny Rogers. Her 25th solo album released in the same year, Burlap and Satin, in comparison did not contain any real classic or memorable hit songs. The title is an acknowledgement that there will always be two contrasting aspects to her music – and how best to balance pop and country is something she is obviously still struggling to reconcile at this point. This album reached number 5 in the country charts, a disappointment for her, although it did result in a Grammy nomination. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Burlap and Satin (1983)”
Before I started this blog I wasn’t hugely familiar with Little Big Town, since their fame in the U.K. is niche at best. Many of my fellow Americana bloggers seemed to scoff at them, as though they were just another bad example of pop county and the Nashville big machine. However when I caught them live at C2C festival a couple of years ago I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed their set. This new album Nightfall has been mainly produced by the band themselves, alongside Golden Hour producers Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk.
While a band like this don’t set trends themselves, their work and choice of songs has always been admirable in comparison with some other mainstream, major label county artists. Unfortunately this also means that they too have fallen victim to the current banishment of women from the country music radio airwaves, despite their previous success. Luckily for the listener that seems to have freed them to do something much more interesting on this album. Continue reading “Album Review: Little Big Town – Nightfall”
Self confessed ‘saddest girl in Sweden’ Sarah Klang has previously toured with First Aid Kit and mixes vintage pop influences with her love of all things Americana. Her new album ‘Creamy Blue’ is a selection of sumptuous and beautiful songs that you can’t help falling for. Continue reading “Album Review: Sarah Klang – Creamy Blue”
Despite never working a 9 To 5 job in her entire life, Dolly Parton understood the plight of working women and channeled that despair, hope and frustration into an anthem that still resonates today, long after the film of the same name has faded in the cultural consciousness. Her previous album, Dolly, Dolly, Dolly had been entirely written by others, so it was ironic (although not a surprise to anyone who understands her songwriting talent) that she would find the crossover hit she was looking for in her own pen after all. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs”
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”
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)”
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)”
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)”
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”