Soundtrack to February

Album of the Month 

Album cover is an abstract painting with black, yellow and pink shapes hovering above what looks like a green sky and green and blue landscape below

Tanya Donelly, Swan Song Series (2016)

This three-CD set brings together all the Swan Song series releases. In style, I’d say the music is a combination of the more poppy Lovesongs for Underdogs and the melodic, country-inflected This Hungry Life.  It’s a wealth of gorgeous songs.

Top tracks: Making Light, Why So Sad, VivaKaraoke

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Soundtrack to January

Album of the Month

Album cover is a black and white abstract painting with black shapes against a grey background

Kristin Hersh, Possible Dust Clouds (2018)

Hersh’s latest has a rough-edged, vigorous and gritty sound. It’s more percussive and textured than some of her other solo work. I’ve got my tickets booked for her UK tour.

Top tracks: No Shade in Shadow and Tulum

Album cover is a colour photocopy of the the artist

Album cover is a colour photograph of the artist against a background of stylised flowers

Tori Amos, From the Choir Girl Hotel (1998) and The Beekeeper (2005)

My partner is a big Tori Amos fan. Choirgirl is one of my own favourites. It marked a shift for her musically and I remember how startled we all were back in 1998. I loved it, though. I like The Beekeeper, but I think it’s one of her least innovative works and is more of a background album for me.

I love pretty much everything on Choirgirl, but I’ll go with Spark because it just blows the album open and Playboy Mommy for its grappling with the experience of miscarriage. My favourite track on The Beekeeper is Sweet the Sting.

Album cover is a black and white photograph of a bare foot

Patti Smith, Trampin’ (2004)

Not one my top Patti Smith albums, but still a good listen.

Top track: In my Blakean Year

Album cover is a watercolour painting of mountains above a blue lake

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Greatest Palace Music (2004)

An album of Will Oldham covering himself! These are all versions of songs originally released under his various Palace incarnations. He basically turns them into (slightly) more upbeat country songs.

Top track: Riding (this one’s still creepy)

Album cover is a colour photograph of the artist lying on a dirty floor

Neko Case, Furnace Room Lullaby (2000)

This was my first encounter with Neko Case. It’s not her best and is much more of a straightforward country album than her later work, but it has some great songs and foregrounds her amazing voice.

Top tracks: Set out Running and Twist the Knife

Album cover is gold chain with a gold boxing glove pendant against a hot pink background

Cat Power, The Greatest (2006)

This is a beautiful, warm soulful album.

Top track: Love & Communication

Album cover is a close up photograph of Leonard Cohen's head. He is staring directly into the camera.

Leonard Cohen, Field Commander Cohen, Tour of 1979

Cohen at the height of his live performance powers here, with bonus jazz band.

Top track: Lover, Lover, Lover

Album cover is an abstract painting in blues, greys and yellows

Joseph Arthur, The Graduation Ceremony (2011)

I don’t know much about Joseph Arthur, but I like this album. It’s a gentle collection of quality songs.

Top track: Out on a Limb

Soundtrack to Last Week

I somehow managed to publish this post yesterday before it was ready. I must have hit ‘publish’ instead of ‘update’. Anyway, properly updated now.

Album cover is a blurred photograph of Hersh's son, Wyatt,with a purple filter. He is looking down and wearing a white t-shirt and dark trousers. The track listing is in white text on the left

Kristin Hersh, Wyatt at the Coyote Palace (2016)

I love everything Kristin Hersh has ever done. This is a beautiful, spiky, life-affirming album.

Top track: Bright

Album cover is a stylised drawing of a skull on a black background

Album cover is a colour photograph of a rough track leading towards the sea

Bonnie prince Billy, I See a Darkness (1999) and The Letting Go (2006)

My two favourite albums from Will Oldham. Both winter listens for me.

Top tracks: I See a Darkness and Strange Form of Life

Album cover shows a faded bunch of flowers against an off-white background

Sleater Kinney, No Cities to Love (2015)

Always enjoy listening to Sleater Kinney. I cleaned the kitchen to this last night.

Top track: Surface

Soundtrack to a Week in the Country

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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.

Recent Listening

The Butchies, Make Your Life (2004)

This album is SO much fun. It’s just catchy, dumb, lesbian pop/rock tunes from beginning to end.

Image shows the album cover which is a red and black painting, showing a stylised man and woman at the centre with black plant designs around the edges

Tanya Donelly, This Hungry Life (2006)

I love everything Tanya Donelly’s done. This album feels less innovative than most of her other work, but it’s lovely.  Top tracks: “Kundalini Slide” and the title track, which makes me think of my grandmother for some reason.

This hungry life won’t let you out whole
But you can change a thing or two
Before you go
This hungry life
Might not leave you with much
But you can change your story
And throw a hand up from the mud

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