We spent last week in rural Mid Wales. There was a crispness on the air and the scent of wood smoke as the local pubs started lighting up their fires. You could feel winter moving in.
Time to break out the folk and Americana.
- Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Strange form of Life
- First Aid Kit, Wolf
- Nina Nastasia, Bird of Cuzco
- Mariee Sioux, Two Tongues
- Gillian Welch, Look at Miss Ohio
- Johnny Cash, Highway Patrolman
- Joan Baez, Money for Floods
- Cris Williamson, Fringe
- Neil Young, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
- Bob Dylan, Not Dark Yet
One of my ambitions in life is to have amazing grey hair. I stopped dyeing my hair three years ago, but the result cannot yet be called “amazing”. It’s …. on a journey I guess, an interesting one which I would like to write more about at some point.
When I feel insecure about it, I’m going to look at this picture of Natalie Merchant from the cover of her retrospective collection.
This is everything and I’ll be happy if I can get my hair to look half as good.
Gillian Welch’s hair is looking awesome these days too
The Be Good Tanyas, Blue Horse (2000)
This is an old favourite full of lovely covers and interpretations of traditional songs. It was one of the first albums I bought when I started getting into Americana. Top tracks, The Coo Coo Bird and Light Enough to Travel
Album of the Week
Janelle Monae, Electric Lady (2013)
I’ve been listening to this a lot recently. It’s a life-affirming joy of an album. There are so many great tracks here (‘Given Em’ What They Love’, ‘Q.U.E.E.N’, ‘Electric Lady’, Dance Apocalyptic’, ‘Ghetto Women’), it’s hard to pick a fave, but right now I think I’ll go with ‘We Were Rock and Roll‘
I’ve been listening to a lot of First Aid Kit recently. I love the new album, Ruins. Stay Gold is amazing too.
The last couple of months have been quite challenging, as well as cold and dark, so I’ve been looking for music to accompany cups of tea and introspection.
I love Joan Baez’s Gone from Danger (1997). All except one of the songs were written by younger artists (Dar Williams, Sinead Lohan) and Baez brings a rich maturity to the material. As you’d expect, there’s a political undercurrent, with songs about immigration, child abuse and environmental issues, but it’s all comforting somehow. The collector’s edition features a live bonus CD of performances in which Baez is joined by some of the songwriters.
I’ve never really been into Dar Williams. This may be a British thing, but the extreme earnestness of her lyrics makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. However, I’m getting beyond that and Promised Land (2008) is growing on me. Apparently this is one of her more poppy albums and frowned on by some fans of her earlier, more acoustic sound. I have no opinion on that at this time.
The voice of the summer was probably Marianne Faithful. I picked up her albums Vagabond Ways(1999) and Kissin’ Time (2002) in a secondhand record shop a few months back. One of Faithful’s strengths as an artist is her ability to choose fantastic people to collaborate with. Her albums are so well produced and, despite the wide-ranging material and song styles, retain a distinctive sense of identity. Vagabond Ways is sort of a cabaret album produced by Daniel Lanois. It features her version of Tower of Song which is one of my favourite Leonard Cohen covers. My other favourite track on there is ‘File it under fun from the past‘ which is so bitter, melancholy and defiant. Kissin’ Time is perhaps a little more edgy, with songs produced by Beck, Jarvis Cocker and Billy Corgan.
Earlier in the summer I bought Collected by Massive Attack which is a great anthology. My favourite Massive Attack song is ‘Angel‘. I hasn’t been off my mp3. player in at least 5 years.