Some Country Voices

country music (2)

When I wandered into HMV to buy something cool I could not believe that they were playing Dolly Parton on the store’s sound system. It was 2002 and the world was re-discovering Dolly Parton as she took her music career back to its Bluegrass roots. Counter-intuitively moving away from mainstream Country-Pop to the narrower, older form of Bluegrass widened Dolly’s appeal like never before and set her on the trajectory that took her to the mainstage as the headline artist for Glastonbury – a traditionally heavy rock mecca. To my surprise I loved what Dolly was bringing into the 21st century and have been a die-hard fan ever since. The album that won me over was her 39th studio album, Halos and Horns. This song is from her 38th – The Grass is Blue (1999). It was the album that opened up this whole new chapter for Dolly – and the genres that she represents.

I still remember where I was when I first heard Eva Cassidy’s voice. I had to find out, whose voice is this? Clean, soulful, easy, nuanced with an innocent simplicity Eva’s posthumous albums take the hearer to a place where songs are really sung. No Diva theatrics. Just sung sweetly and artfully. That’s why, I believe, Eva enjoyed the posthumous success that she did. There are many places where Country, Bluegrass and Gospel meet. This song is one of them. Eva’s is my favourite rendition.

Peter, Paul and Mary were a product of genius when Albert Grossman put them together. Some, mentioning no names, looked down on them as a confected folk band. But for me and for millions the combination of their sound brought a sincerity, intensity and innocence to the American Folk Revival. The power of their appeal as a band brought the work of artists like Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Woodie Guthrie to a wider audience than ever before. The conviction with which they performed meant that they could sing the simplest, three-chord song and turn it into an anthem, something moving, memorable and powerful. That’s why I feel they wlel deserve their place in the great hall of fame.

Lyle Lovett needs no introduction from me! He has a voice, a uniqueness, a musical integrity and a wit that shows us some of the best of the Country tradition has to offer. Thank you, Bruce Pont, for introducing me 21 years ago to such an amazing talent. Here he is on home turf with a wonderful infusion of Gypsy Swing into the mix too!

Country music tells stories. Wit, irony and pathos – and the essential element of a compelling voice – are the vital ingredients bring it all home. Here’s a once heard never forgotten contribution from the fabulous Bobby Gentry.

Smooth, soulful, relatable – a contemporary voice of country, Keith Urban

Dolly’s devotion to her home country, its people, its economy and its folklore, come together with her message of love and understanding in this layered story – told with a touch of theatre, heaps of affection and a sweet sense of humour.

I love Katie Beresford’s voice. Live, she is charismatic, winsome and compelling. And this song, oh my goodness, it speaks to me and for me! Thank you Katie!

Faith Hill is one of those crossover artists who provide a gateway for pop audiences to enter into country territory. Hence, “This Kiss!”

The natural beauty of family, singing in close harmony has always been a special part of the Country sound. Country is often winked at for having an “I’m just fit to lay me down and die,” spirit! But The Cox Family show that even that kind of a song speaks what we all feel from time to time and by adding beauty to the expression of it give us something to carry us through.

Country gold. Country royalty. Enough said!

Bonnie Raitt’s textured voice, her skillful reinterpretation and delivery of great songs, and her unapologetic stage presence make her a megastar of Country. The dirty, masculine way she plays that slide guitar continues o win over new generations of fans. This song, with its clean and quiet production lets us listen to the subtlety that Bonnie Raitt brings to the party. Nice!

Is there anything that Lady Gaga can’t do?! From Bohemian Punk to Climb Every Mountain Gaga shows us a multi-faceted artistry. Her remake of A Star is Born with Bradley Cooper was an amazing landmark, and in this slightly nervous performance (yes I think they are) at the 2018 Oscars, the two artists bring a certain chemistry to Lady Gaga’s arresting composition. And Bradley Cooper, is there anything you can’t do? Bravo both!

When artists respect each other everyone wins!

The Sirens! Thank you the Coen Brothers for introducing us!

A celebration of love and life.

Has Willie Nelson always been this old? Kinda! I think WN is an artist who understands what it is to incarnate or carry a whole musical tradition. He embodies it and brings its flavour to whatever he does. I don’t particularly like the theme of death in country music but…I can’t deny this song an airing. In case you’re new to Willie Nelson, look and learn!






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