Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Music 2014 - Part 12 - The many shades of transatlanticism

It has just occurred to me that amongst the various 2014 albums that I consider may feature in my year-end 'Best of 2014' list, the majority actually happen to come from the USA. It is in part a result of my liking for roots and Americana but, more generally, it is part of a trend towards transatlanticism (if that is a made-up word then I blame Ben Gibbard!) in such things.
This first is an example of what I'm thinking. If I were to ask many in the UK what came to mind when the words "music" and "Nashville" were combined, the answer would still represent the apparent status quo that existed from the late 1950s until less than a decade ago and that represents two generations... So what has changed?

The answer is not simple I think. There is no cultural take-over involved. It is indeed quite the opposite - UK music has changed and in the process become far less insular in both influence and ambition. Nashville has changed too, and in many of the same ways as it happens, in the sense that it realized that it could have a wider reach; therefore my adoption of the term 'transatlanticism' for all these changes of emphasis. The artificial distinction, imposed by both sides for so long, has simply melted away...

I chose Torres' d├ębut album for two reasons. One is that it was actually released in 2013 and as such does not impinge on my comments or thoughts on the albums of 2014. The other is that unless you knew otherwise I could probably convince you that Mackenzie Scott is a UK artist, from any town you care to think of.
That would be a total fabrication: she is from Macon City, GA and moved to Nashville, TN to attend Belmont University.
This album is certainly no Music City stitch-up. For one thing it is self-released, so it took a bit of finding on CD, but in no way is it amateur in any sense - from writing through to recording and production. It isn't standard Nashville fare either, but neither does it ape any of the recent UK acoustic singer-songwriter tropes to any extent. Some of the tracks could hold a candle to almost anything...  One thing it generally is not is cheerful, that is not to say that it does not lack optimism.

July 2014 is the 45th anniversary of Woodstock, arguably the festival that defined the course of modern festivals - and not least because it rained. This summer is the 50th anniversary edition of Cambridge Folk Festival (31 July - 3 August 2014) and it is now completely sold out.

This next suggestion is the fourth LP by UK band Redlands Palomino Company, which was recorded almost live in a chapel in Gloucestershire, England, and released by Clubhouse Records on April 14, 2014. I saw the band live at Truck Festival 2013 and was mighty impressed. Several portions of the video below were actually shot live at Truck Festival.

Opportunities await those that remember.
I was rather surprised to see Paul Simon and Edie Brickell both in the news this week and for all the wrong reasons. The best the UK press seemed to be able to do, as regards the latter, is to remind us that 'All I Am' was covered by Emma Bunton on her first post-Spice Girls album.
This is a case of damning with faint praise both-ways round: it assumes we can't even remember the original version, written by Edie Brickell and Kenny Withrow, from the 1988 album 'Shooting Rubber Bands at the Stars'. While the aforementioned cover version is worthy of a footnote there is, at least in my opinion, a far better one and that comes from someone who is almost unknown in the UK. This is the 2008 album 'Deranged' by Stacee Lawson from Huntington, WV and, I should mention, the rest of the album is well worth a listen too.

This CD was self-released; mine (above) has no code at all. Stacee Lawson is out there still, playing live.

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