Amy Black rediscovered her Southern soul on 2015’s The Muscle Shoals Sessions, whereas her earlier work placed Black firmly within the Americana scene. Some of us happen to believe that soul music is Americana and African American-originated musical forms have largely and wrongly been left out of the broad Americana genre. So, in my book, her music still counts as Americana as it melds roots music categorizations. For her new album, Black went for the Memphis sound, home to the all-mighty Stax Records and their signature horn sound, as well as Hi Records. Titled Memphis, the record will release 2 June 2017 on her own Reuben Records.
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Woman’s eerie, neon-coloured “Marvelous City” doesn’t exactly deviate from the throngs of electropop singles flooding the market as of late (often sadly referred to as EDM), but it does employ a pleasantly lush practice in ambient-pop noodlings. “Marvelous City” is rife with catchy hooks and harmonies, but its pungent atmosphere of orbiting synth waves is the draw here. Swelling with sonic panic and anxiety, the number overflows like a cauldron of anti-romantic synthpop.
Steve Horowitz: The electric guitar lead, no matter how synthesized, gives this song an edge. And the fact that the guitar remains ever-present without breaking out into a wack solo is even better. Migos do a great job of keeping things simple without being dumb. The lesson is that everything costs something. Don’t be fooled by what is hidden. The melodic rap reveals that packaging is just that, but reality will always find a way to assert itself. Migos delivers the goods, and that’s all there is to it. No hidden meanings here. You gotta pay the price, that’s all. [8/10]
Paul Carr: Since their inception, Run the Jewels has set the bar phenomenally high, and with every new single they seem to manage to vault cleanly over it. Here they mix a deceptively simple backing with their thunderous flow with words flipping and leaping like salmon during mating season. As always they blend a serious contemporary message with their wry sense of humor. The call and response bridge is remarkably effective, showing that this isn’t just a band, this is an institution. [9/10]
North Carolina singer-songwriter Malcolm Holcombe possesses one of those deep whiskey-soaked voices that come from a life spent working and playing hard. A voice like that can’t be faked; it has the authenticity born of living life through less than advantageous circumstances, and it can also be a voice of deep wisdom. Holcombe’s music comes from the country blues side of the mountain where plainspoken lyrics rest atop spare acoustic arrangements played with feeling. But Holcombe also weaves folk and country into his work. He’s about as Americana as one can be.