wears the trousers magazine

incoming: patty larkin

Patty Larkin

[Signature Sounds; March 8]

To celebrate 25 years in the music biz, Patty Larkin got 25 of her friends to help sing 25 of her favourite songs from her extensive back catalogue. And what friends they are! Shawn Colvin, Suzanne Vega, Rosanne Cash, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dar Williams, Erin McKeown, Janis Ian and Jonatha Brooke are just some of them, artists Patty says she has “admired and been inspired by…Renegades and troubadors, humorists and historians, these are singers who have stopped me in my tracks and made me aware of beauty and passion and joy.” The guests were sent ‘live’ acoustic studio recordings of Patty’s songs over which they sang and played their own parts then mailed the recordings back to her. “Every package that came back was like a message in a bottle.  Something exotic and wonderful, and new. A surprise,” says Patty. “It often brought tears to my eyes to hear their voices with mine, to listen to their musical minds at work creating beauty. It has made me grateful and humble, ready to listen – to begin again.”

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anaïs mitchell & erin mckeown: live at the luminaire 23/01/10

Anaïs Mitchell / Erin McKeown
The Luminaire, London ••••½
January 23, 2010

She’s done it again. Almost exactly a year to the day that Anaïs Mitchell last stepped off of the Luminaire stage to rapturous applause and ear-splitting whooping, Vermont’s finest export (better even than Ben & Jerry’s ice cream) takes a bow and shyly soaks up the deserved adulation. This time, though, she can’t take all the credit. This evening was made extra special by the presence of Erin McKeown, the petite, dynamo veteran of six studio albums and the latest signing to Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records. Aside from offering excellent value for money, this co-headlining tour from the labelmates (or “stablemates”, as they jokingly refer to each other) offers an unprecedented chance to see these two top-tier singer-songwriters play together, collaborating on several of each other’s songs as the set progresses.

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january gig guide

So, January, yeah. Rubbish, isn’t it? Dark, cold, still bloated from Christmas, the annual humiliation of failing to keep your resolutions for longer than a fortnight, nothing to do…wait! Nothing to do? The gig year doesn’t usually heat up properly until March or so but there’s plenty worth seeing. We’ve trawled the listings to pick out something to warm your cockles for every black, freezing night of the month, starting tonight!

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best of 2009: readers poll results #40–31

Here we go, counting down the 50 albums you voted for in the highest number as your favourites for 2009. Numbers 40–31 right here.

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Tori Amos
Midwinter Graces

[Island; November 2009]

What we said then: “[Tori] Amos has spent a lifetime exploring the perceived divisions between the sacred and the profane, the Christian and the Pagan, or to put it in her terms, “marrying the Marys”. On Midwinter Graces, she takes this preoccupation to its logical (and perhaps most literal) conclusion, stripping back carols commonly regarded as Christian to their pre-evangelised forms, and working in some naturalistically rooted observations of her own… She thinks nothing of editing a lyric or verse here and there to suit her thematic needs, and it’s this return to some of the fearlessness of old that impresses most. And, unlike some of her recent material, there’s never the sense that the message is taking precedent over the music.” •••• Alan Pedder

What we say now: The woeful artwork may have landed her on more than one ‘worst album covers of 2009’ list, but Midwinter Graces has done a lot to reinvigorate Amos’s fanbase. Hell, it even got some glowing reviews from the mainstream music press. The revelation that standout track ‘Winter’s Carol’ is to be the finale of Amos’s next project, a stage musical production of writer George MacDonald’s children’s story, The Light Princess, has perked up interest in the long-promised project. 2010 could be another interesting year to be a Tori Amos fan.

Download: ‘Jeanette, Isabella’, ‘Star Of Wonder’, ‘Winter’s Carol’

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erin mckeown: hundreds of lions (2009)
November 30, 2009, 12:01 pm
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , ,

Erin McKeown
Hundreds Of Lions ••••
Righteous Babe

Things have hardly been quiet on the new album front for Erin McKeown lately, with a standards set (2006’s Sing You Sinners) and a live album (2007’s Lafayette) keeping the acclaimed Virginian singer-songwriter on the road, but there’s extra reason to celebrate the arrival of Hundreds Of Lions, her first collection of original material since 2005’s We Will Become Like Birds. Newly signed to Righteous Babe Records, McKeown has a witty, imaginative writing style in common with her new label boss Ani DiFranco, and long-time fans will rejoice at the return of her clear and natural alto, a no-frills instrument that brings a wonderfully effective sophistication to her songs. Newcomers, too, will find much to discover in this richly diverse collection that casts McKeown in a range of different guises.

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free music friday: erin mckeown

020709_erinmckeownErin McKeown

After three impressive releases through Nettwerk Records, Virginia-born Erin McKeown has spent the last few years extensively touring the world and putting out nice, if unspectacular, stopgap releases like 2007’s live album Lafayette and last year’s rarities collection Small Deviant Things, Vol. 1. In all then, it’s been four long years since she put out an album of all-original work. That’s about to change. Freshly signed to Ani DiFranco’s label Righteous Babe Records for upcoming album Hundreds Of Lions, it makes perfect sense for Erin to be among their wonderfully diverse stable of artists. ‘Foxes’ is the first track to be lifted from the album, set for release on October 13th. Tight, muted, chopping chords and lo-fi, melodramatic piano notes create a playfully building melodramatic tension, dexterously managed by Erin’s able alto. MP3 after the jump.

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erin mckeown takes it to the river
July 2, 2009, 8:31 am
Filed under: news, trouser press | Tags: , , ,

020709_erinmckeownSinger to finance new album with inventive series of internet gigs

Lovable singer-songwriter Erin McKeown has a new album waiting in the wings, only she needs to earn some bucks to be able to get it out there to her fans and market it properly. Being the resourceful sort, who has previously gone down this independent road with her 2000 album Distillation, she’s decided to sing for her supper over the internet with a series of four live broadcasts taking place this month, kicking off next Tuesday (July 7th). Each of the four shows will have a distinct feel and will offer fans the opportunity to catch Erin playing in various scenarios, including on a rock in the middle of a river (!), or, if it’s raining, from inside of her touring van. The final show, on July 26th, will show Erin and her band playing the entirety of her new album Hundreds Of Lions, in sequence, from her front garden.

Tickets for each gig are going at $10 a pop, with a special price of $30 for all four shows. In addition to the live broadcast, fans will have access to a live chat window where they can send in their comments and talk with other viewers as they watch; if they can’t tune in at the exact time, their ticket will allow them to watch the gig on-demand for up to a week after the original broadcast. Erin promises lots of surprises, including covers you won’t hear anywhere else and guest cameos from some of her talented friends. Hundreds Of Lions will be Erin’s first album of all-new self-penned material since 2005’s We Will Become Like Birds. In recent years she has released a swing album (2006’s Sing You Sinners), a live album (2007’s Lafayette) and an odds ‘n’ sods collection (2008’s Small Deviant Things, Vol. 1). Visit Erin’s website to buy tickets and to hear clips of the finished album.

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