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Posts Tagged ‘Jazz

Talented tootsies, gals, lassies and other such sweet things…tracks from Beach House, Marina, Agnes Obel, Paloma Faith, Amy MacDonald and Angus & Julia Stone

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Looking for an apt title to headline a piece about a collection of female singer-songwriters, I happened upon the following synonyms for the word ‘female’: babe, bimbo, dame, dish, doll, floozy, moll and skirt. I just didn’t feel quite right describing such talented and respectable artists as Paloma Faith and Julia Stone as ‘skirts’, so I opted for the slightly less Dickensian and more Gaelic ‘lassie’ and ‘tootsie’…a reference which in no way implies any similarities to the work or wardrobe of Dustin Hoffman. Just so that we’re clear.

Beach House is a dream pop duo consisting of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. Legrand hails from France and Scally from Baltimore, US. The duo’s fourth studio album, ‘Bloom’ was released in May 2012 to critical acclaim, following 2010’s ‘Teen Dream’ which has been described as one of the best albums of its year. I have highlighted new album track ‘Lazuli’ below.


Marina And The Diamonds released the follow-up to debut album ‘The Family Jewels’ a couple of weeks ago; ‘Electra Heart.’ ‘Power & Control’ is the second track to be released from the record, which is performing brilliantly in the UK Album Chart. To be fair, there isn’t one weak track to be heard on the album, so it deserved to do well. This is probably my favourite record of the year so far.


I am loving the new high-gloss, high-drama TV series Revenge on E4. I’m not usually a fan of such things (90210, One Tree Hill, The O.C.) as they pretty much bleed in to each other plot-wise. You could accidentally sit on the remote as you reach for your Chipsticks, switch over half-way through and not realise you had actually scooted over the short coastal distance from Beverly Hills to Newport Beach and the cast had all aged about 20 years. Revenge however has the edge…maybe that’s because it’s set on the East Coast? It has a great cast, an addictive plot sequence and very importantly for me, an exciting musical soundtrack.

Agnes Obel‘s track, ‘Avenue’, featured on the pilot episode of Revenge and had a big impact. The track is taken from the Danish singer-songwriter’s debut album ‘Philharmonics’ which was released in September, 2010. Album track ‘Riverside’ has also featured on the hit series; Obel is obviously a personal favourite of the music supervisor.


Paloma Faith released her second album ‘Fall To Grace’ last week; an album which was preceded by the single ‘Picking Up the Pieces.’ The track is Faith’s highest charting single to date. I also really like ‘Just Be’ which Faith performed on Later…with Jools Holland recently. It is surprising and slightly irksome to her followers that Faith hasn’t yet enjoyed the same level of notoriety as some of her peers, particularly Stateside, but I think that this is all set to change with this album.


Amy MacDonald released her third studio album today (June 11th, 2012), ‘Life In A Beautiful Light.’ The album has already garnered several positive comments from the music press and Perez Hilton no less. The album follows in much the same vein as ‘This Is The Life’ and ‘A Curious Thing’, but possesses perhaps a more rose-tinted lyrical glow. MacDonald is no less fiesty in her subject matter, but everything certainly seems to be blooming in her world. Good for her.


Angus and Julia Stone for those who are not in the know, are a brother-sister folk duo from Sydney, Australia. They formed the band in 2005 and have since gone on to release two studio albums, the most recent of which was ‘Down The Way’ in 2010. I re-discovered ‘Hold On’ whilst watching Revenge last week. Angus and Julia are both working on solo projects at the moment, so I don’t think that we can expect any new music anytime soon. / / / / /

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

June 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Friends of Mine Festival 2011 – review now up on eFestivals

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The first ever Friends of Mine Festival took place last weekend, at Capesthorne Hall in Macclesfield, Cheshire.

With a line-up of artists ranging from Badly Drawn Boy, The Cribs, The Charlatans, The Fall, Buzzcocks and Black Lips; the weekend promised to deliver a good mix of new music, fresh talent and a few vintage indie favourites.

I was on reviewing duties for eFestivals and you can read my full review here:

For photos, taken by my friend Zoe Lawson, please visit here:

Thank you,

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

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.

Rumer, ‘Seasons Of My Soul’ – album review

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There’s no better feeling than hearing a song which takes you back to your childhood, or any particularly joyful or emotionally significant time of your life; several tracks do just that for me, usually by such artists as The Beatles, Nilsson, Crowded House and Cliff Richard…oh yes, I do enjoy a bit of the Barbados dweller.

Another such artist or specifically, voice, would have to be Karen Carpenter. And herein lies my appreciation and excitement for a similarly vocally gifted female, who goes by the name of Rumer.

Rumer, real name Sarah Joyce (born 1979, Pakistan) was discovered by American composer and music producing legend Burt Bacharach, who was so impressed with the voice he heard that he flew her to California so that he could hear the instrument in person…imagine getting that call! I’ve always loved Bacharach’s work; producing countless hit songs and compositions for the likes of Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield. With a musical icon such as this on your side, the future could only look positively blinding for the British Soul singer-songwriter.

Rumer’s debut albumSeasons Of My Soul’ was released in early November 2010 and has spent the subsequent weeks firmly rooted in the top ten of the UK Albums Chart, whilst the number of positive commentaries from critics continues to flourish. The eleven-track record includes debut single ‘Slow‘ and recently released second single ‘Aretha‘ and is to put it simply; a listener’s utopia. Each track possesses an almost tranquilizing quality; as Rumer’s vocal tone, combined with the misty melodies, evoke a sense of basking for the ears.

The similarities between Rumer and Karen Carpenter are strikingly evident and unlike other critical comparisons, this one  I feel is both justified and relevant. It tends to annoy me when I hear people described as “…the next x/y/z” as I don’t really see the point of such comparisons; new artists should offer something different, something exciting, not simply a replica of what has gone before. I understand why the music industry bills people as such however; it helps the music-buying public to identify the type of artists that they might like, but I often find this not to be the case when all is said and done. You tend to simply be left disappointed by a slightly below par version of an already established singer or band and when you start with a negative, it’s difficult to turn that around. Or maybe I’m just too hard to please…?!

The album artwork echoes the notion of childhood memories and the part that music clearly had to play in those memories for Rumer. Kicking off with ‘Am I Forgiven‘, the record sets its stall out perfectly from the outset; the track is classic soul with Bacharach-style hints of jazz flavourings throughout, as Rumer speaks about such trademark subjects of the genre – heartbreak, regret, inner emotional turmoil…it’s all good stuff, people! ‘Slow‘ is a definite album highlight and it is clear to see why this track was chosen to introduce Rumer to the music-buying public. The title of the track is literal in its reference to the pace and mood of the lyrics and melody, which is precisely what makes it so addictive in its ability to soothe and seduce.

Take Me As I Amis one of my particular favourites from the album. I like the simplicity yet significance of the track’s sentiment; Rumer asks that she, or rather the subject of the piece, be accepted for who she is, if the love she refers to is indeed unconditional. A simple concept, yet at times seemingly the hardest thing in the world to communicate; then again, perhaps the very fact that you have to explain this concept to your betrothed signifies that you’ve gone past the point of no return? Who knows; I do like to analyse lyrics to within an inch of their lives! ‘Aretha‘ is an moody ode to Aretha Franklin; one of Rumer’s idols and greatest inspirations. Rumer felt that Aretha; or rather her music, was the only thing that she could turn to during family troubles at home. The result is a highly polished performance, showcasing her vocal capabilities to perfection. This would be a great Sunday afternoon track to lounge around to, or perhaps a relaxing soundtrack to a long, otherwise uneventful journey.

Any of the tracks could be future singles; I also particularly like ‘Thankful‘ and ‘On My Way Home.’ Rumer has recently collaborated with Bacharach and playwright Steven Sater, on a record entitled ‘Rumer Sings Bacharach at Christmas.’ This special one-off release will hit the shops and online on December 13th, 2010. I think I’ll surely be chomping on some festive turkey to the sounds of this winning compilation.

All in all, a delectably dulcet debut from an artist which I am very much looking forward to hearing more from. The late, great Karen Carpenter would surely agree.

To find out more about Rumer, to catch a live show or to listen to more tracks please visit:

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

November 30, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Great new tracks: Janelle Monae, Goldfrapp, Groove Armada, Robyn.

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I’ve always been in to Electronic Dance music; Psychedelic, Chillout and House being my notable favourite sub-genres. In recent months my appetite has been whetted even further by the  increasingly creative and diverse offerings from such artists, and also their accessibility in the mainstream. After all, what is the spice of life if not variety?

Groove Armada ft. Will Young, ‘History’ (released August 30th, 2010)

I’ve always had time for Will Young and liked the direction he’s taken with his music, so the combination of him and Groove Armada was not too shabby for me. Will’s vocals on this track  have been likened to Jimmy Somerville of Bronski Beat and later, The Communards; High praise indeed; Somerville’s version of ‘To Love Somebody’ betters the original in my opinion, primarily due to his striking and instantly recognisable falsetto. ‘History’ wasn’t originally planned to be released as a single so I’ve heard, but after a number of compelling live performances and positive word of mouth and online referrals, the audience won through. This track is taken from Groove Armada’s latest album ‘Black Light.

Janelle Monae, ‘Cold War’ (released August 30th, 2010)

If you haven’t already heard of Janelle Monae, it’s only a matter of time. Signed in 2008 by P. Diddy and then described by him as :

a true visionary, with an original sound and a mesmerizing presence…

Monae is obviously destined for big things and for the right reasons. Her debut album ‘The Archandroid‘ is a whirlwind ride of Soul, Funk and Hip-Hop and if you check out her live performances on YouTube, particularly on The David Letterman Show, you’ll see why her name is on the lips of many an industry insider and luckily now, the general music-loving public too.

Goldfrapp, ‘Believer’ (released September 6th, 2010)

This track is taken from Goldfrapp’s latest album ‘Head First’ and hits another home run for me. I don’t actually know what a home run is, I tended to be picked last in PE as I have a motto in life; ‘you only need to run when a. you’re being chased by a masked killer or b. the ice cream man hasn’t seen you in his rear view mirror’, otherwise, nope, not for me…but I hear a home run is a good thing, hence the comparison.

Robyn, ‘Hang With Me’ (released September 6th, 2010)

There’s a really good acoustic version of this track on You Tube if you so fancy. This is taken from Robyn’s latest album ‘Body Talk PT. 1’ On the strength of this, I very much look forward to PT. 2. I think Robyn’s voice suits her genre perfectly; being both soothing and uplifting in equal measure. I also think she’s a great songwriter and contrary to popular belief, yes, dance music can contain stand-out lyrics, it just doesn’t happen that often.

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

July 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm

2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist; hooray for Folk!

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2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize – shortlist announced today (July 20th, 2010)

Well the Mercury Prize shortlist has been announced today and I am delighted to see 3 folk artists/bands in the line-up; those being Laura Marling’s ‘I Speak Because I Can’, Villagers’ ‘Becoming a Jackal’ and Mumford & Sons’ ‘Sigh No More.’ The full list is below:

Biffy Clyro, ‘Only Revolutions’

I Am Kloot, ‘Sky At Night’

Dizzee Rascal, ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’

Paul Weller, ‘Wake Up the Nation’

Corinne Bailey Rae, ‘The Sea’

The xx, ‘xx’

Villagers, ‘Becoming a Jackal’

Kit Downes Trio, ‘Golden’

Foals, ‘Total Life Forever’

Laura Marling ‘I Speak Because I Can’

Wild Beasts, ‘Two Dancers’

Mumford & Sons, ‘Sigh No More’

With a talent for poetry and lyricism far beyond her tender 20 years; Laura Marling is well respected in both folk and wider contemporary circles. This, her second album, was released in March 2010 and peaked at number 4 in the Official UK Chart and number 1 on the iTunes UK Chart. The album has produced two singles thus far; those being ‘Goodbye England (Covered in Snow) and ‘Devil’s Spoke.’ These just happen to also be two of my favourite tracks from a genuinely striking and sublime record.

Villagers are an Irish indie-folk band, hailing from Malahide in Dublin. This, their debut album, was released in May 2010 and immediately topped the Irish Albums Chart and the Irish Indie Albums Chart. Lead singer Conor J. O’Brien is widely respected and lauded for his songwriting, musicality and influence amongst his peers. O’Brien’s music has been described as drawing inspiration from dark imagery and by romanticising the mundane aspects of life. Definitely a wordsmith to note for the future.

I think most people will have heard of Mumford & Sons at this point; regardless of whether they happen to be a fan of folk music. This, their debut studio album, was released in October 2009, peaking at number 6 in the Official UK Charts in July 2010. The album has since been certified Platinum in the UK and has produced the following hit singles, ‘Little Lion Man’, ‘Winter Winds’, ‘The Cave’ and ‘Roll Away Your Stone.’ Continuously sold out shows confirm the band’s popularity both at home and abroad. I would be surprised if this band weren’t judged to be in the top 3 of those shortlisted; but then again, I fear other factors come in to play with these commercial prize-giving ceremonies; I still haven’t got over Lisa Hannigan not walking away with the award for ‘Sea Sew’ last year.

Still, us folk fans can dream and hope, hope and dream; I think these three are worthy winners but would like to have also seen Richard Hawley’s ‘Truelove’s Gutter’ and Noah and the Whale’s ‘The First Days of Spring’ nominated. But, you can’t have everything.

Alan Pownall, ‘True Love Stories’ – album review

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Having heard his name being reviewed and revered a great deal of late; I decided to check out the folk-pop/alternative offerings of Alan Pownall this week.

Pownall is a London-based singer-songwriter, currently signed to Mercury Records. His debut single ‘Chasing Time’ was first played by Fearne Cotton on Radio 1 in February of this year, and his debut album ‘True Love Stories’ was later released on 25th June 2010. Cotton claimed that the debut single made her cry on first listen; luckily for Pownall these were tears of joy rather than the alternative. I have included a link below to the BBC Introducing session with Alan, where he performs ‘Chasing Time’ and chats to the brilliant blubber herself in the studio.

Although I think it only fair to give an album a good few listens in full before drawing your conclusions; I do often tend to skip a couple of tracks along the way as my mind sifts my favourite tracks from the also-rans. With this album however, I found that no sifting was required as I found diverse yet complementary hooks in each track which kept my attention throughout. Stand out tracks for me would be: ‘Too Many Holes’, More or Less’, ‘Don’t You Know Me’, and ‘Clara’; but my favourite of the record would have to be ‘Colourful Day.’

The 24-year old’s soothing and swooning vocals are at their best on this track, which is accompanied by an equally sublime and summery music video. Pownall has been likened to Jack Johnson which is a comparison that I can see on a couple of tracks; however, I think he fits much better in to the burgeoning and rather exciting London indie-folk scene, with the likes of Noah and the Whale and Mumford and Sons. I would agree that Pownall’s sound is slightly more melancholy than Mumford’s, but this for me would never be a criticism; I’m a Cancer and we just love to drift away, riding the waves of emotion or basking on the shores of sentimentality.

Pownall has supported the likes of Adele and Marina and the Diamonds on recent tours and has a couple of gigs coming up over summer for our southern-dwelling friends; I look forward to catching him up north very soon. I predict big things for him in the coming years.

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

July 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm

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