It’s hard to believe that this band, Texas, are actually best known in France. They seem to have been so much part of the tapestry of UK music since ‘I Don’t Want a Lover’ dropped in 1989 on the brilliant debut ‘Southside’. Now, 33 years later they have released an album which is quite literally genre defying. It has songs that quite simply span every kind of music.
It really doesn’t feel like five years since 2016’s reissued debut album ‘Sirens’ was being described as “a debut of remarkable depth” by none other than The New York Times. The album was originally self released in 2014, but the indie label reissue saw appearances from Sara Bareilles and Gotye and really cemented Ben Abraham as a songwriter of note. He co wrote Kesha’s RIAA certified double platinum Grammy award winning smash hit ‘Praying’ amongst a host of other songs. However, that catalyst moment of his life also accompanied a tumultuous, faith sapping part of his life as he went through a serious break up. Ben responded to these trying, difficult times as only a songwriter can and used this time as inspiration for a selection of songs that speak to the undeniable possibility of rebirth after all the loss and pain.
I recently chatted with The Shires about their music and Ben Earle, one of the duet, mentioned that he felt U.K. Country acts were being seen as less of an embarrassing cousin in Nashville and that this was massively highlighted by the emergence of duets with respected US Country artists. The Shires have recently duetted with Lauren Alaina and Jimmie Allen on reworked Shires songs. Now, highly acclaimed UK Country artist Tim Prottey-Jones has released a brilliant new original song with “An Artist You Need To Know” , according to Rolling Stone Country, Stephanie Quayle.
The Shires are probably our most successful Country artists and just before lockdown last March, they released album number four ‘Good Years’ but had to put their tour on hold. The tour has been put back to 2022 but they are going to treat their fans, and hopefully some new fans, to an exclusive live gig to be streamed on Saturday, April 10th via Stabal. You can find out more here.
Nowadays, one of the most effective ways to get music into people’s world has become the hugely popular platform of TikTok and recently an artist we have covered and appreciated before, Katie Kittermaster, has seen a massive uptake of one of her songs ‘Friends’ on that platform. For that reason, Katie has given her audience what it wants by releasing the song across all of the streaming and download platforms last Friday.
At just 19 years old, RoseeLu seems to have a sound way beyond her years which encompasses the alternative sounds of the nineties with raw and very modern pop. Not only does it manage to merge and blur the lines between age and genre but it also manages to have the widescreen, big sound of a Bond theme and the introspective lyrics and contemplation of Billie Eilish. It is a song that very much examines and celebrates the fact that there is nothing wrong with playing alone and spending time on your own. It says that is ok not to feel the need to conform.
Julia Zahra was born in Indianapolis USA but raised in The Netherlands. At 25, she has achieved many things as she has won ‘The Voice of Holland’ at just 18, the youngest singer to ever audition for and win the show, and then in 2015 winning a show called ‘The Best Singers of Holland’.
Now, it’s time to find her own direction and try to find recognition outside of Holland. She has, since those shows, released critically acclaimed music of her own and toured extensively in Oceania where she’s garnered quite a following. Julia was speaking with Steve Holley.
Lucy Spraggan releases album number six today and it’s an album that comes from the soul. Most artists will have, at some point in their career, the record that changes everything for them. It might not be the album with the most success, or the album with the most hits but it will be that album where everything seems to come together, where the lessons learned from everything that comes previously enables something forged in real honesty, in real emotion. For me, this will be that album for Lucy; the record that becomes the touchstone for everything that will inevitably follow, the bar against which everything else will be compared.
Imelda May is surely one of our best songwriters. Having been born and raised in Dublin, she began her career at 16 performing locally. Now, on the eve of releasing her sixth studio album ‘11 Past the Hour’, she is known worldwide and critically acclaimed. She has worked with some of the world’s greatest producers and artists and when releasing the debut single from this new album was able to call upon friends Noel Gallagher and Ronnie Wood to collaborate. She really is that rare thing of being an artist’s artist.
Cha:dy is a Parisian alt-jazz singer who, last week, released new single ‘Lazy’. Taken from a forthcoming EP, it shines a light on young people suffering with mental health. Having suffered herself, Cha:dy was able to tap into her innermost emotions to write a song that is as honest as it is moving. Steve Holley had the chance to speak with Cha:dy.
It’s four years since we heard new music from Imelda May and so today has been an eagerly awaited release date. Imelda May is a globally revered Irish artist who brings it all. Jazz, rockabilly, blues and rock’n’roll are the musical DNA of an artist who started singing blues inspired by Nina Simone and Billie Holiday and then as she developed into one of our best songwriters seemed to be influenced by the honesty and emotion of writers like Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith and, of course, the legend that is Phil Lynott. When these influences are thrown into a musical cauldron and mixed with a voice that oozes raw emotion, the results are pure witchcraft.
Katie Kittermaster releases her second single of the year on Friday, 22 January. ‘Lukewarm Lover’ is a song that, while staying true to the usual honesty of the artists lyrical style, takes a more mainstream pop approach. The contrast between lyrical content and melody offer the perfect imagery of putting on a brave face whilst under a breezy exterior there is often deep emotion and conflict.