July 4, 2017 by Adam Wilson
Courtney Marie Andrews Honest Life
One of the finest americana albums of the year for me. How had I not encountered the wonderful music of the Phoenix, Arizona born singer songwriter before now? Interesting background to how the album came about on Courtney’s website biography
“With plans to settle down for a bit and focus on her own songs, Courtney moved to the Northwest in 2011 to record her last full-length record On My Page. However, the record had hardly been released before she was on the road again performing other artists’ songs, eventually leading her overseas to play guitar and sing with Belgian star Milow. At the tour’s end, though, the other session players joined her to record her 2014 EP Leuven Letters in one take. It was during this time that Courtney also wrote many of the songs on Honest Life. She found herself realizing the impact of growing up on the road and this constant reconciling between her and other’s art and identity”.
The first track on Honest Life that grabbed my attention was Put the fire out. This was following a post on social media I read from the Guardian and music journalist Laura Barton. I then investigated the album further and was drawn to the title track, Table for one, Only in my mind, Rookie dreaming! The list just goes on. Have a listen for yourself.
The Small Glories Wondrous Traveller
And staying with an americana and folk influenced sound brings me on to The Small Glories, a new project from former Wailin’ Jennies member and solo performer Cara Luft and J.D Edwards. Both are from Canada and whilst they have heaps to offer as solo artists there is just something rather special about The Small Glories.
As it says on their website “The Small Glories has allowed Cara to finally put the long shadow of The Wailin’ Jennys behind her”. “The Jennys was a very beautiful project but a bit too delicate and pretty,” she muses. “I’ve grown up since then and I’ve come to terms with why I’m still following this path ten years later. We created very sweet-sounding music, but this new project with JD is more gutsy and honest and representative of who I am. Plus I’m continually challenged as a singer working with JD.”
On the album there are co-writes with excellent UK contemporary folk singer and songwriter Bella Hardy, another Quiet Revolution favourite. Cara and J.D take it in turn to provide lead vocals. All in all it’s a very fine record indeed.
Emily Mae Winters Siren Serenade
Siren Serenade is Emily’s debut album, a much anticipated release for the Cambridge-based singer songwriter. Ben Walker, ace collaborator and half of the excellent contemporary folk duo with Josienne Clarke, is again involved on the new album as he was with Emily’s Foreign Waters EP released in 2016. In fact the debut album was co- produced by Ben and Lauren Deakin- Davies who has worked with Laura Marling. It features the fine duo of Hannah Sanders and Ben Savage, the superb Lukas Drinkwater and others. There are 12 tracks on the album, a combination of self-penned and traditional folk songs which draw inspiration from poetry, myths and stories of love, loss, fate and memory and musically I’d suggest Emily’s sound has shades of folk, 70’s singer songwriters and americana.
Siren Serenade is her debut album but I think we’re going to be hearing much more from Emily both on record and on the gig and festival circuit. Check out her album and catch her playing live if you possibly can.