There is a video going around now of a 45 of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” slowed down that has just blown my mind. Instead of the usual Dolly pitch, the vocals are sultry and grimy. While it is an awesome video and a unique take on a classic, the video also reminded me of how much I love roots/Americana/country female singer-songwriters. My rotation lately has featured classics like Dolly and Loretta Lynn, but also new artists like Holly Williams and The Grahams and, of course, great Iowa artists like Milk and Eggs and Alexis Stevens.
So call it dumb luck that one of my favorite singer-songwriters in Iowa, Mary McAdams, released a new album, When You Dive, during my re-discovered infatuation. McAdams is a veteran of the scene and is well renowned amongst her peers. Her new album features her at her slightly twangy best. Her music is simple without being insulting. It’s smart and strong, but not overwhelming. It is the rare hidden gem that fits in just as well on modern country radio as it would pop and even the surprisingly quick “Trap Door” and the organ bedded “How Much We’ve Loved” both have a strong blues/ Bonnie Raitt feel to them, with “Trap Door” even sneaking in a bit of a Tarrantino vibe.
McAdams has a confidence to her that allows her to pull off whatever it is she wants. There is sometimes a shyness hidden in some female singers that works, but McAdams’ voice is strong and her music is powerful. There is an underlying strength to all the notes even when it is subtle and beautiful like “That Was Love” (which I think is my favorite song on the album) or just acting as the rhythm while the story carries like in “Girl Next Door”.
I liked this album a lot. It is perfect for those who want blues, country, folk all intertwined with a beautiful voice carrying all of it. When You Dive isn’t going to blaze new trails, just kick up some dirt on trails already carved.
Try Not To Miss Shows – 9/12 – 9/18
Stephanie Nilles w/ Mary McAdams – Ritual Café 9/13 7pm
Catch some of the songs of When You Dive plus you get the pleasure of Stephanie Nilles, maybe my favorite act I ever booked with Des Moines Social Club.
Bonnie Finken and the Collective, Ladysoal and Mary Beth Doran – Gas Lamp 9/13 8pm
Bonnie Finken is one of the best performers in Iowa and Ladysoal’s new stage show is starting to generate some buzz, but don’t sleep on Mary Beth Doran who might be the fastest rising singer-songwriter in the state.
Annalibera, Mr Nasti and Love Songs For Lonely Monsters – Vaudeville Mews 9/13 10pm
Annalibera and Mr. Nasti are taking off on tour, so go say ta ta for now. Oh and LS4LM is awesome, but they’re not going on tour so just go see them.