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Posts Tagged ‘Blues

James Bay releases debut album ‘Chaos and the Calm’

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The long awaited debut album from 2015 Brit Awards Critics’ Choice winner, James Bay, was released today on Republic Records (March 23rd, 2015).

‘Chaos and the Calm’ features 15 tracks which showcase Bay’s classic rock and blues predilections, but also pay a welcome homage to his surroundings whilst he was recording in the pilgrimage capital of country, Nashville.

‘Hold Back The River’, ‘Scars’, ‘Collide’ and ‘Move Together’ are my current favourites.  I am definitely firmly rooted at the soft rock/blues end of the musical taste spectrum, but I think this record has a bit of something for everyone in this ball park.

I’ve been looking forward to this album for months now and I for one am not disappointed. I hear the similarities between Bay’s sound and that of later date Kings of Leon, but I have to say that I much prefer Bay’s music and I would liken his tone and vocal edge much more to Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) or Ben Howard. Aged just 24, I think we can look forward to a long and well established career from this artist.

A very satisfying debut.


shelleyhanveywriter 🙂


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

March 23, 2015 at 6:00 pm

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One to watch: Wild Belle’s infectious debut single ‘Keep You’

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What a painfully cool family the Chicago-based Bergman‘s are: Elliot and Natalie (known as, Wild Belle), the funk and reggae-inspired sibling duo and Elise, the handmade, eco-conscious women’s fashion designer. Genealogical records are sketchy at this point, but I am certain that the parents of such effortlessly voguish children are just as impressive. My guess; international human rights lawyer and inventor of the ceramic hair straightening irons.

Wild Belle are currently touring the US, but have been making waves this side of the Atlantic due to debut single, ‘Keep You‘. The track is simply delightful and I challenge any listener to keep their feet firmly stationery throughout. The track is currently available to stream at the link below:

I think this band has a unique sound, which I welcome in today’s grime/hip-hop/dance-flooded charts. I bunch the three together as they do, admittedly, tend to blur in to one for me. A bit like an optical illusion, but without the ugly old woman’s face at the end.


shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

February 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm

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From Sex and the City to Madeleine Peyroux, via ‘Moon River’

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On a random personal note; I’ve recently moved out of my family home and in to my own house and was surprised and a little perturbed to discover several good habits that I appear to be developing. Gone are the days were I was quite comfortable having never touched a Flash wipe or indeed the bin on collection day; now I delight in such menial tasks! I feel a certain pride being the queen of my own modest castle, but alas, with great power comes great responsibility and it would also appear that I don’t seem to have a lot of the latter, particularly when it comes to ‘Sex and the City‘ re-runs on Comedy Central. I may have seen these episodes thrice times over at least, yet I cannot miss that double bill at 11:30 pm and I think my boss would agree that the subsequent 1:00 am naptimes are starting to affect my timekeeping…though said naptimes are often translated in to more appropriate work-speak, such as “traffic“, or “non-televised motorway pile-up.”

One just such memorable episode was aired last week; Season 4 Episode 18, ‘I Heart NY.’

I had never seen this particular episode before and I think it would be fair to describe it as a significant turning point or realisation in the previously rocky relationship of Carrie Bradshaw and Mr Big. Big announces that he’s leaving New York the next day to move to California and proceeds to play an old vinyl of ‘Moon River‘; the song his parents used to play before they went out on the town. He highlights the lyric, “two drifters, off to see the world” and in that moment, it becomes clear that the inclusion of the song in this episode is rather poignant; Carrie and Big are the drifters, currently on different paths yet destined to remain interlinked. I’ve always loved ‘Moon River‘ for its magical and mood-elavating properties, in fact most of the tracks that I feel a particular connection with share these attributes; I might relate them to a specific stage in my childhood (‘Michelle‘ by The Beatles and Sundays at my Nan’s house), or perhaps a memorable family film (‘Summer Holiday‘ by Cliff Richard and the Hanveys all sat around enjoying the sunny exploits of Don, Barbara and the gang), either way the song strikes a chord and induces emotion.

An artist with the capability to do this, without so much as stepping foot on to a London Bus, is Madeleine Peyroux.

Peyroux is a French-American singer-songwriter, with an unquestionable talent for Jazz and Blues. She is often compared to Billie Holiday and the similarities are quite striking, I have to agree. Releasing her first album ‘Dreamland‘ in 1996, Peyroux gained widespread attention and rave reviews; surprising many therefore, when she decided to take a step out of the spotlight and busk for the next six years around Paris…oh the romance and bohemia of it all! The first video that I have linked to here is for ‘This is Heaven to Me.’

Building quite a following in and around Paris, Peyroux went on to release a further three solo albums, ‘Careless Love‘ (2004), ‘Half the Perfect World‘ (2006) and ‘Bare Bones‘ (2009). ‘Standin’ On The Rooftop‘ is her soon to be released fifth solo album (June 7th, 2011) on Decca Records. To coincide with the album’s release, Peyroux will be performing a selection of live shows in the UK, including:

May 4th, 2011 – Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall (

For me, Peyroux’s voice echoes all the fragility and wonder of Hepburn’s on ‘Moon River‘; and on ‘The Summer Wind‘ (linked above), I can just picture Carrie and Big on that buggyride through Central Park, both aware of the romance and importance of it all, yet both unable to acknowledge it for their own reasons.

As long as there is music like this being made by such captivating artists as Madeleine Peyroux, some people will settle down, some people will settle, but I will refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.

Johnny Flynn, ‘Been Listening’ – album review

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You know that feeling that you get when you realise you’re in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time and even if given the chance; you wouldn’t change one single moment of it? I had that very feeling when  I visited the Cambridge Folk Festival for the first time this year…it happened, whilst I was watching Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit perform.

Being a relative newcomer to the expansive genre of folk music, I had done some research on a selection of the artists performing and made a most delightful discovery in the form of Flynn’s debut album ‘A Larum.’ The 14-track folk-rock recording was released in 2008 and features such superbly crafted tunes as ‘The Box’, ‘The Wrote And The Writ’, ‘Tickle Me Pink’,Shore to Shore’ and ‘Eyeless in Holloway.’ Unlike perhaps some of his current nu-folk contemporaries, Flynn could never be categorised as one-dimensional; with his debut album swaying sweetly in the summer Sussex breeze between ‘pure folk’, country, blues and rock. I like a bit of diversity on a record; which makes it all the more pleasing to hear on a daily basis and not at all repetitive. I do tend to get a bit obsessive with new discoveries; I will find an album that I really like and literally listen to it every day, from start to finish, till I’ve learnt every lyric, every key change, every hidden moral and then I’ll rest for a while. Then the process starts over. I am having just that love affair at the moment with Flynn’s second album ‘Been Listening.’

The album doesn’t care for easing you in gently, preferring to eyeball you with the brass-laden, calypso opening of ‘Kentucky Pill’, watching you shift  suspiciously in your seat, eyes darting and rising as you quickly reach the conclusion that there’s no point fighting it; you’re hooked and there’s no going back. ‘Lost And Found’ follows, allowing the listener to regain their composure with its soothing melody and emotive, maritime-referenced ode to the macabre. It would be fair to say that Flynn’s first album touched more than a little upon the subjects of death and funerals; but strangely enough, never in a morose, depressing sort of way. I am of the belief, to reference one of Flynn’s peers and another favourite wordsmith of mine; Charlie Fink (Noah and the Whale) that ‘…you don’t know how it feels to be alive. Until you know how it feels to die’ (‘Shape Of My Heart’).

I really enjoy the Take-Away Shows on Blogotheque; on which Flynn appears, performing three tracks from his debut album. The videos are shot on location in Buenos Aires and are a perfect introduction to the genius and vision of Vincent Moon. I’d definitely recommend a viewing at the link below:,4703

Next up is Flynn’s account of loves; past, present and future, throughout the seasons in the evergreen‘Churlish May.’ The album title track, ‘Been Listening’ follows, with some soulful electric-stringed inflections to reel you in, then Flynn’s deep and dark dulcet tones to keep you enthralled throughout. I am in a most enjoyable- albeit fantasy- position at the present moment in time, as I cannot decide which voice alone I would most prefer to hear for the rest of my life; that of Charlie Fink or that of Johnny Flynn…I may have to do some kind of practical experiment in the very near future, so I’ll let you know how I get on with that one. Restraining order permitting, of course.

The track that I remember most vividly from Cambridge would have to be ‘Barnacled Warship’, which is the next track on the album. Flynn showcased his musicality with this number to breathtaking reception, alternating between violin and acoustic guitar with empassioned ease, as he took festival-goers on a trip across the high seas fighting the waves, the enemy and the inner workings of his own mind. A duet, entitled ‘The Water’ with critics-favourite Laura Marling is another album highlight. Marling’s honeyed tones complement Flynn’s perfectly in this dedication to that most pure and essential, yet at times deadly substance; This track has just been confirmed as Flynn’s next single release, on November 1st, 2010.

I am reviewing Mumford and Sons this coming weekend in Manchester, for which Flynn has been confirmed as support. I can hardly contain my excitement at seeing both of these tremendous acts in one billing and have heard great things about Mumford’s live performance prowess. Should be a brilliant show, of which I will of course be reporting back in full on here.

‘Howl’ should be a great track to hear performed live, given the instrumentation and vocal skills on display. Listening to Flynn’s work, it is hard to come to terms with the fact that there are artists out there at the moment, enjoying huge success on an international scale, who could never hope to possess such talent as a lyricist, let alone be musically proficient on such a varied scale from brass to strings and beyond. To be fair though, I am pretty sure that international acclaim and everything that goes with it, however nice that would be, is not Flynn’s primary motivation. I know him you see; we’re like that (index and middle finger crossed…)

‘Amazon Love’ is simply beautiful; Flynn’s sister Lillie sings on this piano and cello-led ballad about that emotion which we all feel and all wish we sometimes didn’t. ‘The Prizefighter And The Heiress’ concludes the album with an initially gentle and sauntering take on the differences between two star-crossed lovers, which steadily rides in to a country-fused western number; a fitting note on which to close an album peppered with diverse influences and dramatic displays of musical wizardry.

Flynn embarks on a solo tour of the UK in December, 2010:

Saturday 4th – O2 Academy, Birmingham

Sunday 5th – Academy, Manchester

Tuesday 7th – The Liquidroom, Edinburgh

Thursday 9th – The Trinity Centre, Bristol

Friday 10th – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London

Saturday 11th – St Georges Church, Brighton

Sunday 12th – Phoenix Arts Centre, Exeter

I would highly recommend paying him a visit at one of these shows. Tickets can be purchased from or via the links below:

Lissie, ‘Catching A Tiger’ album review

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Lissie (full name, Elisabeth Maurus)’s debut album ‘Catching A Tiger’ was released in the UK in June 2010; a year after it was written in Nashville and a good couple of months before it was released in her native America. Since early this year, Lissie has been based in London and the music press and fans alike have since taken her in as one of their own; the reason for this hospitality being not just the obvious and simply stunning talents of the artist, but also the fact that she’s just a genuine, straight-talking, cool chick who shuns the spotlight for the songwriting; and boy is it all the better for it.

‘In Sleep’ was the first single to be released from the blues-rock singer-songwriter’s album, followed by the retrospective and heartbreak-tinged ‘When I’m Alone.’ Lissie has said that her inspiration for the album was her memories of never feeling like she fit in in her hometown of Rock Island, Illinois and of the ‘girls that snubbed her and the boys that broke her.’ Lyrics such as ‘…when I reach out and I only grab air, and it kills me to think, that you never did care’ highlight the longing and isolation that she felt in her own mind as a teenager; if only she knew then just what a gift these feelings were, as well as her own ability to turn them in to something quite special.

I was lucky enough to see Lissie perform live recently at the Cambridge Folk Festival; she had the crowd enthralled from the first track due to the sheer power and passion which emanates from her vocal chords. I think she has perhaps the best tone and vocal capabilities of the vast array of female singers around at the moment; which makes it all the more surprising and refreshing to hear her speak and engage with the audience in such a humble, almost bewildered state. She appeared to be truly amazed at the warm reception that she received from the capacity crowd at Cambridge and from that moment on; she had won me over hook, line and sinker.

I have a few favourite tracks from the album, including opener ‘Record Collector’ which gives an air of resolution or realisation; it sounds on this track like the youthful and naive Lissie has finally become comfortable with herself, ‘…but my blue eyes cannot see, that their true hue is probably green…’  the 60’s-sounding piece with a punch ‘Stranger’ and the delicate strings sound of ‘Look Away’ which speaks about taking vows, taking steps towards the door and taking chances on a union that you both know might not be quite right. It is track 9 however, which delivers something I can’t really put in to words; it’s just one of those melodies that you fall for instantly and you put on repeat until you know all the words and can sing it in your head whenever you just have to hear it again…take a listen to ‘Everywhere I Go’ below and I’m sure you’ll agree.

Lissie does an impressive cover version of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ on her MySpace page (link can be found below), which also happens to be my favourite Gaga track. Lissie delivers an equally striking vocal performance as Gaga,but it is the blues-folk edge to this track which I think further showcases Lissie’s impressive vocal range and ability to turn a hugely commercial dance track in to a soulful and sweet number.

‘Cuckoo’ is the next single off the album, set for release on August 30th, 2010 in the UK. This track is about Lissie’s teenage years and her feeling that no one understood her and no one possibly could. The video for the single takes us through her high school years, her first crush, her first guitar purchase and her first arrest! With the help of the very cute young Lissie in the video, the track actually leaves you with a positive, warm and fuzzy feeling that hey, you may get expelled and even arrested, but you too could be headlining Cambridge in a few short years!  

Lissie will be supporting The Script on their upcoming UK tour in September and then doing some headline shows of her own in late October/early November, including:

26th October – Glasgow Oran Mor

27th October – Manchester Academy 2

28th October – Bristol Thekla

30th October – Norwich Waterfront

31st October – Birmingham Academy 2

1st November – London Heaven.

Try to catch a show in a venue near you, I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. 

All in all, I would give ‘Catching A Tiger’ 9 / 10, although I’m not quite sure what more she could have done to gain that extra mark.

More information on Lissie can be found below at these websites:

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

August 23, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Liverpool Sound City 2010 review

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I headed down to the docks on Friday night (in a non ‘lady of the night’ fashion) to review some bands at Leaf Cafe, Liverpool ( They were performing as part of the Liverpool Sound City festival, which saw over 400 signed and unsigned acts from all over the world descend on the city to perform in selected hotspots.

I managed to catch Billie Van and her Ranchhands, He and She and finally, Hey Tourists.

The first band ( are from Copenhagen and fuse country with blues and rock, I really liked the sound of the lead singer on their tracks, very mesmerizing and left you wanting more. The second band ( are from Liverpool and are an unsigned five-piece. These were my favourites of the night; their tracks were a blend of indie and folk and again, the lead singer was very impressive. Her lofty toned vocals complemented those dulcet ones of the lead guitarist perfectly. Looking forward to seeing more from these guys. The final band (  are also from Liverpool and are a recently formed five-piece, having previously performed as a duo. Their sound was indie-rock with a slight soft punk edge, highlighted by their rousing and rhythmic bouncy tracks.

Full review here:

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

May 25, 2010 at 5:58 pm

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