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Saturday 14 May 2011

Ladies' Night

I suppose strictly speaking this post should be titled "Ladies' Morning" but (i) I had originally intended to post it on Thursday evening but Blogger was down, and (ii) "Ladies' Morning" sounds rather silly. So "Ladies' Night" it is.

And the reason for that is we are bringing to your attention three new albums by female singers that are all worthy of your attention. The ladies in question are Madeline, ellen cherry and Lay Low. The albums are all country or folk tinged in varying degrees. And the last two come courtesy of the estimable ReviewShine.

The blurb that came with Madeline's album "Black Velvet" referred to her as an "Athens, GA sweetheart" and compared her to Karen Carpenter, Neko Case, Jefferson Airplane and The Carter Family. Having now listened to it a couple of times I can entirely understand why the check-shirted, bad-bearded hipster boys of Athens would be completely smitten with her - I'm half way there myself - and I can certainly see the Neko Case comparison, but the rest of it I don't get.

"Black Velvet" is a really good country/pop album, and it is out on 6 June on a label unpretentiously called This Will Be Our Summer. The track approved for blogging and download, "Hurry Up Pronto", is from the poppier end of the scale but overall it is a nice mix and I really like her voice. My personal favourite track has to be "Johnny Cash". How can anybody resist a song that starts "If Johnny Cash is up in Heaven then he's bored to death"?

"Hurry Up Pronto" - Madeline

elllen cherry (she appears to prefer the lower case) is a singer-songwriter based in Baltimore. I am not sure her new album, "(New) Years" - which came out last month on her own Wrong Size Shoes label - is a concept album as such, but it does have a sort of theme. Each song is inspired by a particular year or event, many of which are either linked to specific moments in the history of womenkind or ellen's own life. It is folk with a sprinkling of jazz and very well done. Not being a great one for the jazz I prefer the "straight" folkie numbers, like this one, the opening track on the album.   

"1864 A Civil War Bride" - ellen cherry

We return to capitals with Lay Low, the capital in question being Reykjavik. Lay Low is the pseudonym of one Lorisa Sigrunardottir, and her new album "Farewell Good Night's Sleep" is for the most part a straight up old style country album.  Think Patsy Cline and you are very much along the right lines. Mixed in between the Nashville Sound ballads are a few tracks that sound slightly more contemporary - well, 1970s at least - and today's selection is one of those. But, like the Madeline album, nothing jars because all of the songs are at different points in a natural spectrum. And, like Madeline, her voice is thoroughly charming. You can find the album on iTunes, Amazon and elsewhere.

"Last Time Around" - Lay Low

The combination of an Icelandic female singer and tonight being Eurovision night gives me the perfect excuse, as if one was needed, to wheel out my old favourite, Silvia Night. For the full story of Iceland's misguided attempt to introduce satire to the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest go to my post from May 2009. Here is our Silv in action, in audio and video.

"Congratulations" - Silvia Night

For what it is worth, based on the ones I have seen so far, my tip for tonight's contest is Azerbaijan. That should be the kiss of death for them. I thought it was a shame that they will not be joined in the final by Anastasia Vinnikova with her stirring tribute to her homeland, which lost out in Thursday's semi-final. Maybe if she had deployed the folk dancers featured in the video she would have had better luck.

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