Monday May 20, 2013
I have to admit, I've been a fan of Melissa Ferrick's music for years. Back around 1995, when I was first exploring the world of singer-songwriters and contemporary folk music, Melissa Ferrick's early recordings were instrumental in drawing me into the form. So, I've followed her career through the years and enjoyed watching her songwriting take all its twists and turns, exploring new themes and avenues, and expanding her horizons along the way. Her live shows have always been invigorating and her records have always piqued my interest.
It's always refreshing to watch an artist grow and change across decades, and Ferrick has never shied away from the opportunity to explore new vistas in her music. Sometimes she hits, other times she misses. Her new album The Truth Is, frankly, is unlikely to go down as one of her finest recordings, but there are still gems among the misses. Check out my full review of The Truth Is or just read up on Melissa Ferrick with this bio and profile, to learn more.
image © MPress Records
Thursday May 16, 2013
Over the past couple of years, the American folk music scene has seen its share of songwriting duos. From the Milk Carton Kids to male-female duos like Shovels + Rope and Birds of Chicago, and beyond, folks seem to be moving away from the 10-person band lineups and closer to a more simplified roster (still striving to achieve as much of a lush sound as possible). Whereas the big bands of three-to-five years ago stretched the imaginations of their songwriters, challenging them to add as many instruments as possible without resulting in utter chaos, singer-songwriter duos have been doing their best to keep it to just two voices and two instruments. Their challenge has been how far two people can push the music within those confines.
And so it is that, with great interest, I turn your ears to a new duo coming out of - where else? - the Boston area. Tall Heights consists of guitarist Tim Harrington and cellist Paul Wright, who have known each other since they were children, but have only been playing together as this duo for a couple of years. Learn more about Tall Heights via my recent interview with them, this brief bio and profile, or a video for the song "Man of Stone" from their album of the same name (out this week).
photo courtesy Crash Avenue
Friday May 10, 2013
Ever since her 1997 debut, Patty Griffin has become one of the most inspired and influential songwriters of her generation. You'd be hard-pressed to find an up-and-coming singer-songwriter who hasn't been touched by at least one of her songs along the way, and with good reason. Griffin has a skill for not only making a lovely melody bend around hard-hitting lyrics, but for getting inside her songs and delivering the complexity of emotions that's so difficult to nail.
Her latest album, American Kid is the first release of entirely original songs since Griffin dropped Children Running Through back in 2007. Since then, she's been touring, recording, and performing with a number of other artists in collaboration, and apparently picking up a few tricks of the trade along the way. Learn more about how she cultivated this new collection and whether or not it all works, with my full review of Patty Griffin's American Kid.
image © New West Records
Thursday May 9, 2013
Many fans of American and Canadian folk music will probably know about Ruth Moody through the fact that she is one-third of the much-beloved Canadian folk trio the Wailin' Jennys. Before that, she collaborated with members of the Duhks on another much-loved Canadian roots troupe called Scruj MacDuhk. And, she's also got a fledgling solo career that's well worth paying attention to.
Across one EP and now two full-length solo albums (including the very recently released These Wilder Things on Red House Records), Moody has asserted her impulses as a more contemporary Americana-style singer-songwriter. Where the Wailin' Jennys are a decidedly traditionally-influenced trio, Moody's solo work reaches more toward the realm of modern, lushly arranged folk-pop. Learn more about her solo singer-songwriter career with this review of These Wilder Things (which features contributions from the Wailin Jennys, Mark Knopfler, Jerry Douglas, Aoife O'Donovan, and more), or learn more about Moody in general with this introductory bio and profile.
image: Ruth Moody promo photo