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31 Days of Women: Brandy Clark
CATEGORIES: Features

Brandy Clark

Credit: David McClister

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Brandy Clark several times over the years and have always appreciated her honesty when talking about songwriting and her career.

“Traditionally, country music is a truth-telling, adult format. I want to be a truth-teller. I always want my music to be truthful and a dark comedy. Happy and sad. High and low,” she told me in 2014.

The first time I sat down with the singer-songwriter, it was following the release of her excellent debut album 12 Stories, which she admits she almost never released.

Clark had already penned hits for The Band Perry (“Better Dig Two)”, Miranda Lambert (“Mama’s Broken Heart”) and Kacey Musgraves (“Follow Your Arrow”), and she was content with her career as a songwriter. But that soon all changed when Emilie Marchbanks from management company Fitzgerald Hartley convinced her otherwise and set the ball in motion. Her debut album 12 Stories went on to be nominated for a 2015 GRAMMY Award for Best Country Album.

“It’s been crazy the response it’s getting,” Clark said with a big smile. “There were times in that process of getting passed on and it not working out with labels where I would think, ‘Maybe I’m in a bubble…maybe we’re the only ones that love this. We’re the only ones that “Hold My Hand” moves like that.’ For it to come out and see what [people] say on Twitter and Facebook, and then when I play shows, it’s just so gratifying. And just a testament to not give up on something that moves you. I really think that if it moves you, it will move other people.”

For more of my interview with Brandy Clark and the stories behind “Follow Your Arrow” and “Stripes,” watch the video below and visit Radio.com.


 

March 25, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Lucie Silvas
CATEGORIES: Features

I first met Lucie Silvas in 2016 when Brothers Osborne were performing at Ryman Auditorium as openers for Tedeschi Trucks Band. Her welcoming presence made me instantly feel like I’ve known her for years and one listen to her music and this same quality translates.

Silvas’ 2015 release Letters to Ghosts strikes a chord with heartfelt songwriting and her mesmerizing vocals. The sweet and sentimental “Unbreakable Us” has Silvas singing of how she is stronger with her man by her side. “Everywhere I go the only thing I know / We can weather whatever comes around,” she sings alongside soaring musical accompaniment.

I caught Silvas’ powerful live show twice in 2017 at two very different events — Nashville’s Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival and Luke Bryan’s Crash My Playa Festival. During her set in Mexico in front of thousands at Bryan’s beachfront festival, she captivated the rowdy audience. In a review of the festival, I wrote how her performance showcased “her ethereal singing style. Songs like the soulful ‘How to Lose It All’ and the funky ‘Two Birds One Stone’ impressed while her Elvis Presley cover of ‘That’s All Right (Mama)’ left a lasting mark with memorable guitar shredding and powerful vocals.”

Silvas can be frequently found sharing the stage and harmonies with husband John Osborne of Brothers Osborne. She’ll be performing as part of 2018 Tin Pan South on April 6 at 9:30 p.m. at The Local in Nashville. With the promise of new music in 2018, Lucie Silvas is one singer to keep on your radar.

March 24, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Danielle Bradbery
CATEGORIES: Features

DB Press Image 1_Credit-Cameron Powell

Credit: Cameron Powell

One of my favorite albums released in 2017 was Danielle Bradbery’s I Don’t Believe We’ve Met. The singer penned seven of the project’s 10 tracks for a vulnerable and honest release.

I chatted with Bradbery for Billboard last November and she filled me in on overcoming her shyness in the writing room and shared some of the stories behind the songs on the album. One of the LP’s standout tracks is “Worth It,” which Bradbery said reflected her insecurities about her career within the music industry. She co-wrote the song with Jeff Pardo and Molly Reed and during their writing session she was venting to them.

“I wasn’t playing many shows and I was just in Nashville writing. I would get anxious in those moments because you’re so used to being on a tour and in a routine,” she explains. “I would get frustrated and I’d feel like that’s a natural feeling when you’re not sure how the next album is going to be or if it’s going to go smoothly. I was like, ‘It’s been so long. I’m afraid of the fans not holding on long enough.’ Or, ‘I’m going to put out something and it’s not going to do well.’ There was a lot going on in my head and sometimes I didn’t feel worth it and that’s where it led to. They said, ‘Let’s put a little bit in this and make it sound like a relationship, make it sound like it could be anything.'”

 

 

Another striking song is “Potential,” which Bradbery said helped her shape the album. A raw and emotional track showcasing real feelings, she shares that she wanted the remaining nine tracks to paint a similar picture of vulnerability as heard throughout “Potential.” The idea for the song came from co-writer Emily Weisband, who threw out the concept of being in love with somebody’s potential. As Johan Lindbrandt started playing the piano, the song quickly formed.

 

 

Learn more about the concept behind Danielle Bradbery’s latest album on Billboard.

March 23, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Maggie Rose
CATEGORIES: Features

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I’ve witnessed Maggie Rose live several times since moving to Nashville in 2015 and her set never disappoints. Her smoky and soulful vocals strike a chord while her honest and memorable songwriting always has me going home and researching more of her music.

In September, I caught two of Rose’s performances at Island Hopper Fest in Florida. During one set, she shared her struggles and successes in the music industry. Prefacing her soulful song “Too Many Love Songs” off her latest EP Dreams > Dollars, Rose admitted to writing the song from a place where she was brokenhearted. “I figured, even the love songs are daggers to the heart. They’re supposed to be happy but from a perspective it can be a bummer to hear a love song so I wrote this,” she told the audience at a rooftop restaurant.

 

 

Another song of Rose’s I can’t stop listening to lately is her bluesy “Pull You Through,” released in October along with the vulnerable “Just Getting By.” Take a listen to both below and visit her website for additional tour dates.

 

 

March 22, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Abby Anderson
CATEGORIES: Features

I had the pleasure of hearing new music from Abby Anderson a few weeks ago in Nashville and she is an artist to keep on your radar. With a personality that lights up a room, Anderson’s positive energy is contagious. After talking with her for just five minutes, she makes a person feel like they’ve known her their entire lifetime.

A singer-songwriter, 21-year-old Anderson was recently signed to Black River Entertainment with the release of her debut single expected in the coming months. Her short set over a breakfast for Nashville media included a poignant song called “Make Him Wait” that didn’t leave a dry eye in the room. Telling the room about the confidence and self respect she learned as a young girl thanks to the support of her father, Anderson’s powerful storytelling was showcased throughout her emotional lyrics.

Another song called “Naked Truth” was inspired in part by her mother, who the Texas native describes as a “spitfire.” Country fans will get to know Anderson soon as the singer recently began a whirlwind radio tour that has her traveling to Los Angeles and New York, among other cities, to introduce herself to the country community.

Listen to her latest song, “This Feeling,” which showcases her smoky and soulful vocals below. Follow Anderson on social media including Twitter and Instagram to get familiar with the up-and-coming singer. You can catch her performing at CMA Fest in Nashville this June.

March 21, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Lindsay Ell
CATEGORIES: Features

This is how I feel after playing @theo2arena.. 📷: @catherinepowell

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Lindsay Ell recently spent some time in the UK for the Country to Country Festival where she captivated audiences abroad with her impressive guitar shredding. One publication, The Digital Fix, described her performance as having a “mind bendingly brilliant guitar-led sound.”

When witnessing Ell in the live setting her guitar prowess is evident. She can hold her own with the boys, as is showcased throughout Brad Paisley’s 2017 and 2018 Weekend Warrior World Tour. Each night, Ell joins Paisley on the main stage to trade guitar licks and the girl can shred! While in Chicago in November for the third annual Stars and Strings concert, Ell raved about touring with the singer.

 

 

Ell’s excellent album, The Project, was released last year and blends her masterful guitar skills with her unique songwriting for a versatile listen. Her current single, “Criminal,” is just a hint of her ability to blend show-stopping guitar parts with her memorable soulful vocals.

 

 

I attended Ell’s EP listening party last year and was blown away when she covered John Mayer’s “Stop This Train” live. A huge fan of Mayer herself, Ell has previously hinted at releasing a project of Mayer songs. Here’s to hoping a future Mayer and Ell collaboration is also in the works!

 

March 20, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Emma White
CATEGORIES: Features

I met Emma White not too long after I moved to Nashville and sat down with the singer/songwriter to chat over coffee where she filled me in on her journey to Music City. With a radio friendly voice and captivating stage presence, she recently played several showcases at SXSW where she surely won over many new fans. Below is part of our chat previously posted to You Sing I Write, as well as her video for standout track “Overthink It.”

Emma White was born into a musical family as both her mother and grandmother were singers and songwriters. In fact, Emma was named after Emmylou Harris while her siblings are named after a James Taylor reference. So, it’s safe to say that music has been woven into her life from an early age.

“We would have hootenannies all the time. My family got together and played and sang,” she says with a smile. “I was into pop music at the time. My family was always singing John Prine and Patty Griffin. They exposed me to something I might not have chosen on my own but it was always a part of me.”

White loved pop and R&B music while her family preferred country. Her music blends all three genres and she credits her time studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston for helping her evolve as a songwriter.

“I think co-writing has really expanded my sound and songwriting,” she admits. “You always learn from other people in the room. We can do so much more when we’re working together.”

She adds that she’s constantly trying to find a balance between success as a songwriter and simply doing it because she loves to write.

“You never want to have to compromise certain things. I think the biggest thing is staying true to what you think is good,” she says. “Being a songwriter is often a struggle but it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Performing, singing and music is woven into who I am. It’s always felt like it’s what I was meant to do. It chose me, I didn’t choose it.”

 

 

For more of my chat with Emma White, click here.

March 19, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Kelleigh Bannen
CATEGORIES: Features

Kelleigh-Bannen

I chatted with Kelleigh Bannen just over a year ago about her fantastic single “Church Clothes” and it remains one of my most honest interviews to date. One of the most vulnerable country songs I’ve ever heard, Bannen first stumbled across “Church Clothes” in 2013 while working on a demo session with songwriter Nicolle Galyon, who wrote the track with Liz Rose. Bannen shared the song with her manager and says they “were losing our minds.”

“Church Clothes” paints a vivid picture of a struggling marriage where both sides want out. All the while, the couple keep up appearances while their problems remain hidden from those around them. It was a theme that struck a chord for Bannen as her parents had separated after 40 years of marriage and later divorced.

“It was so exactly what I was going through with my own family at the time when I first heard it. It was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is my world,’ at the time we recorded this because I was on the road a lot and was trying to figure out how to make my marriage work in that setting too,” she confesses. “We started to share it out and play it out [and] so many people can connect with it. Whether it’s a family that went through a divorce – even if they’re not churchgoing – but if they feel that pressure to clean up for the world or to put on the smiling face or to not be real about the stuff that’s going on in their lives.”

 

 

Bannen told me that she hopes the song’s vulnerability gives people permission to not be perfect. Instead of looking at the world through social media’s glossy filters of each other, she urges people to own their “messy glory.”

“People have to see your mess. You have to see theirs to really see each other and be with each other,” she advises. “The invitation of ‘Church Clothes’ is to let people see the real you and to trust that in doing that, you may actually have more love or you may be more accepted. You open yourself up to connection in a totally different way instead of covering it up and hiding and all those things that we do so that nobody knows who we really are and what we’re really going through.”

For the rest of my interview with Kelleigh Bannen, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

March 18, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: The Reckless Electric
CATEGORIES: Features

Reckless Electric

Credit: Kyle Dean Reinford

The Reckless Electric dropped their debut album, Comeback, earlier this month and they’ll celebrate today in Nashville with a release party at 6 p.m. at the 5 Spot. Made up of Mary Bragg and Becky Warren, the duo have already received rave reviews from Rolling Stone and The Bluegrass Situation.

Both solo artists and songwriters, the two friends joined forces for a fun release that showcases their standout songwriting and plenty of electric guitar features.

“With their new joint project, they wanted to get a little less serious and have a plain old good time – all while proving that they’re a force to be reckoned with,” Rolling Stone writes.

This fun side can be heard on the infectious “Ice Cream and Liquor.” As Bragg tells The Bluegrass Situation, the song came from a comment Warren made during a co-write.

“We wrote this song just after we declared ourselves a band whose motto would be to do fun things and nothing else,” Bragg tells the publication. “After finishing a different, much less fun song we’d been working on for weeks, Becky said, ‘Didn’t you say you had some ice cream?’ ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘and liquor to go with it.’ She said we should write that song; I thought she was kidding. This was the start to a new way of us writing together — fast, hilarious, at times ridiculous.”

 

 

Other songs, like the title track, highlight Bragg’s breathy vocals and some rollicking guitar parts while the gritty “Straight A Girls” puts an edgy and unique spin on being a good girl. I’ve interviewed Bragg several times over the years and during a chat for Nash Country Daily, she told me the importance of honesty in songwriting.

“When I first came to Nashville, I just wanted to write great songs,” she told me. “In pinpointing sadness, which can often feel isolating, we’re telling that listener out there, ‘Hey, you’re not alone. You’re not the only person who’s felt invisible in a sea of 8 million people in New York City. You’re not the only person who’s lost a parent.’ That’s the beauty of music—that people can feel comforted by hearing someone else’s pain, which might be much like their own. Every now and then, somebody’s listening close enough where they’re like, ‘Oh, man. That really got me just then,’ and that’s the moment that I’m always looking for.”

March 17, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
31 Days of Women: Hayley McKay
CATEGORIES: Features

Hayley McKay

Credit: Wendy Carrig

Being a freelance music journalist, I receive numerous pitches on new artists each day. While I try my best to listen to each act’s music, it’s sometimes easier said than done. Today I was pleasantly surprised when I clicked on a link to Hayley McKay’s music video for her latest single, “Chance to Change.” The UK artist’s striking vocals and honest lyrics instantly drew me in and I couldn’t help but become entranced in the storyline within the video and the song itself.

“Chance to Change” has a women realizing that the end is near with her boyfriend. As the video plays out, it seems McKay is being ignored by her beau. While she gives him another chance at the bar, the scene becomes increasingly uncomfortable as he chooses to sit in silence on his phone instead of pay attention to her.

“I think you know you’ve gone too far / And now we’re here, here alone in silence / Cursed with the feeling that we’re through / Nowhere to run / So maybe all that I ever gave you was a chance to change,” she sings.


Penned by Irish writers Aoibheann Carey Philpott and Joe Carey Jnr, “Chance to Change” showcases haunting vocals from McKay. The song is one of 10 tracks that will be featured on her self-titled debut album, due out in April.

“Every song shows off a different element of my voice and my producer, Matt Parisi, has really delivered an amazing sound with Geoff Pesche at Abbey Road adding his own special magic,” McKay says in a press release. “I’m so proud of this album and I really hope everyone will love it as much as I do”.

March 16, 2018 | | (0) comment comment
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Willie Shaw's sultry new song mesmerizes upon first listen.
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