Monthly Archives: October 2013

Can a record change your life?

The esteemed David Hepworth recently wrote a blog post generally decrying the idea that a record might change your life.  I thought about this for a while and then decided that my initial reaction was correct, and that reaction was “Bollocks!”.  There’s a certainly an issue about the over-praising of records, gigs and experiences generally and there’s also the point that life-changing records should be few and far between, maybe only one for the vast majority of people. But they do exist.

 One that changed my life was legendary Texas singer-songwriter Townes van Zandt’s Live At The Old Quarter, Houston, Texas.  It’s a warts and all recording of a sold out show that features all the tropes that van Zandt fans will recognise.  Bad jokes, slightly uncomfortable between-song patter, fairly rudimentary guitar playing and some of the finest songs ever written.  It has a real sense of “liveness”, unlikely so many live records, and you do feel as though you’re there in the room.  All of which make it a great album but not a life-changer.  What elevates it to life-changing for me is my reaction to it.  It was my first exposure to Americana and that style of performing and because I loved it so much Americana became what I spent my money on.  A long time later (and together with another life-changing record, this time traditional folk, but that’s another post) that path led to writing about it, first for americana-uk, then magazines, and then to promoting gigs featuring it.  When I’m not working that’s what I do these days.  It is my life, pretty much.

 Would I have followed that path without hearing that album?  Possibly.  Perhaps the same revelation might have been achieved by a different record.  But it wasn’t.  It was Townes, and it changed my life.

Kyle Carey’s Kickstarter project

For many people, me included, Kyle Carey’s debut album Monongah was one of the records of 2011.  Self-styled as “Gaelic Americana”,  it included a mix of originals and traditionals (including yes, one song in Gaelic), all sung in a beautifully sweet voice and with subject matter including Southern snake handlers and a mining disaster as well as thoughtful musings on love and life, the songs were right up there too.

She’s now planning to record the follow-up, North Star, in January 2014 and, as is increasingly the way, these days, has looked to Kickstarter to fund it.  Yes, I know times are hard and yes, I know that the world and his wife is after your cash for their album.  Everyone has to make their own choices but i truly believe that this is one of the most worthwhile musical projects out there, and if the results are anything like her debut, then it’ll be another must-hear.

You can pledge as little as $1, $10 gets you an advance download, $25 a physical copy and a signed thank you, and there are lots of other options.  Her page is here and this is the sort of music you’ll be supporting:

Go on, give her some cash.  Because she’s worth it.