Country Music People May 2019 - Page 42

albumreviews ROSEANNE REID Trails MARY BRAGG Violets As Camouflage   1/2 Amy / Heading North / Hey River / I Love Her So / It Is You / Levi / Me Oh My / Miles Away / Out In Space / Sweet Annie / Take It From Me / What I’ve Done Producer: Teddy Thompson Last Man Records 36:46 I Thought You Were Somebody Else / A Little Less / Faint Of Heart / Fixed / Fight / Fool / Trouble Me Anytime / You Rescue Me / The Right Track / This Feeling / Runaway Town / Sad Stories / The Highest Tower / More Than You Do Producer: Mary Bragg Tone Tree Music 51:15 The other week I picked up the Blu-Ray of Sunshine On Leith in Poundland. I thought it would be tacky and daft, but I loved every minute and also the terrific way the Proclaimers’ music was integrated into the plot. You could see 500 Miles coming and that only added to the fun. The Proclaimers are Craig and Charlie Reid and now I have been sent the first album by Craig’s daughter, 26-year-old Roseanne Reid. Although I could imagine the Proclaimers doing a few of her songs, she is really more inspired by American folk and country music. The brooding melancholy of Levi sounds like a Gillian Welch outtake. Roseanne developed her songwriting by attending Steve Earle’s Camp Copperhead, a songwriting workshop in the Catskill Mountains. I’d have thought he would have been a pretty scary guy to have as a songwriting tutor but it went well and she has returned annually with him endorsing her career. It’s a surprisingly subdued Steve Earle singing with her on Sweet Annie, which is perfectly fine. It’s a lovely folky song where you appear to be joining in the middle of a story without quite knowing what is going on. I had a similar feeling about several of the songs: things are happening and we are not party to the full story. In Amy someone is having her baby taken from her which the preacher thinks is the child of the devil: what century are we in? We don’t know what has happened in What I’ve Done but we’re told not to sympathise with her. All this could be annoying but I found it very engaging. Lord knows what a single is these days, but the chosen track is the well- chosen I Love Her So, which sounds like one of those Muscle Shoals hits from Percy Sledge. Like Me Oh My, it has a fuller sound than most of the tracks. I also really enjoyed the jazzy, soft shoe appeal of Take It From Me, which must work well in concert. I’m surprised that this album was funded through Kickstarter. I wouldn’t have imagined that Roseanne would have had any difficulty in securing a decent contract. In the event, £10,000 was pledged which seems cheap for an album, especially with an established producer, Terry Thompson, the son of Richard. Sounds like he was doing it cheap because he believed in the product. This month I reviewed the first album by Lauren Jenkins and her songs have been ruined by over-production. This album seems just right to me and I’m looking forward to hearing what she does next and hopefully seeing her in concert. Spencer Leigh 42 cmp - MAY 2019 Mary Bragg, in country music terms, is a very lucky woman. She is blessed with a wonderful country voice and she is a superb writer of proper country songs. Mary Bragg is now on release number six - including a Christmas E.P. On the new album she was joined in her own Nashville studio by steel guitar player Rich Hinman (Rosanne Cash), fiddle player Kirstin Weber (Eric Church) and guitar player Anthony da Costa (Sarah Jarosz). The first song, I Thought You Were Somebody Else, is a stunner. Another critic has already compared this track to Patsy Cline songs. It also has the feel of a Mandy Barnett track. Mary Bragg has one of those great, timeless country voices like Patsy or Mandy and the song is a traditional, sad country gem. The greatest traditional country and western songs are the sad songs, tales of heartbreak and despair, and Mary Bragg offers us an instant classic in the shape of A Little Less. When Mary Bragg sings, “I cry a little less, each time I cry” the despair of the singer is almost palpable. The steel guitar forms an important back-drop to this incredible song. The second half of the album - while very good - is slightly less country than the first half. It does have two standout tracks, the gorgeous, melodic country ballad You Rescue Me, and Trouble Me Anytime, a slinky, jazzy, country song. Mary Bragg’s album ends with More Than You Do, a melodic slice-of-life song. It’s a touching country song about hope and the singer’s grandmother. A calm, peaceful, thoughtful ending. Mary Bragg is a special type of country singer. She has one of the best female country voices of recent years and she is a superb songwriter. Her song A Little Less is a contender for song of the year. Mary Bragg has also self-produced her new release and there seems to be no end to her musical talents. Violets As Camouflage is a mature, high quality, country album that should pick-up healthy sales and is highly recommended. Paul Riley