ALBUM REVIEW: Angela Autumn – ‘The Magnolia Sessions’

Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – {The Colourful Writer}

My overflowing inbox is jam packed full of amazing music. Some well known bands and artists, some up and coming young musicians, some yet to be discovered gold. It’s so full I barely have time to touch the edges some days. But having a forced and unexpected lockdown along with the Easter break has given me some time to stop and sit with some new music again. A welcomed interlude to the daily grind. This morning I blissfully slept in for the first time in months. I awoke unsure what the heck was going on. After the initial confusion I sighed and thought to myself ‘I might review an album today’. I already have some on my list but then, I stumbled across this one. I fell in love instantly and the decision was made. Today I will review Angela Autumn – ‘The Magnolia Sessions’. 

Launched in September 2020 and brought to you by the good people at Anti-Corporate Music, ‘The Magnolia Sessions’ is a series in which a new album is released the first week of each month. It’s a beautiful showcase of folk, bluegrass and dark country singer/songwriter acts and it’s very much my cup of tea. Or shot of whiskey, depending on my mood. The live albums are recorded in an intimate outdoor setting by a large magnolia tree at the Anti-Corporate Music/Black Matter Mastering headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. So far it has seen the likes of Matt Heckler, Jason Dea West, Johno Leeroy, Cristina Vane, Nick Hans, Casper Allen, and Jeff Loops. Now it’s time for Angela Autumn to add her magic to the mix. Her Facebook page describes her music as ‘Cowgirl Folk & Sad Gal’s Blues’ and I am all about this vibe right now on this rainy, gloomy but with a tiny hint of sunshine kind of day. 

My heart has been drawn to storytellers for some time now. Music is magic, there’s no doubt. But words. Words are something, as a writer and always a keen reader, that touch me on a different level. So music combined with storytelling sings to my very soul. Over the last few years I have found a new love and appreciation for folk, country, storytelling style music and once you head down this rabbit hole, there is no coming back. It’s a thing of pure pleasure the deeper you get. 

Angela Autumn has a honey dipped angel-like voice that is perfect for her style of music and songwriting. Her ‘Magnolia Sessions’ album includes eight tracks that feel so heartfelt, it’s like I am there under that magnolia tree with her. Barefoot, feet in the grass as I sit there in awe of her honest, raw and emotive performance. Her voice can travel from delicate and gentle like a soft breeze through lace curtains to powerful like she’s channeling some Janis Joplin. The whole time, not quavering one little bit. Solid and strong in its delivery. Her guitar and banjo playing is similar, ranging from delicate paint brush strokes to more heavily strummed bare fingered playing strummed with a strong urge for the sound to escape the instrument. Light and shade delivered in equal parts. Oh heavens, she’s good. 

The album begins with a choir of crickets, cicadas and frogs in the background. Setting the outdoor, natural vibe of the ‘Magnolia Sessions.’ This sets the mood so well as I escape through my pastel pink headphones into another place and time. Champion Berry Picker is the first track. Angela sings with that gorgeous and divine country singer twang that I adore so much. Her banjo is played with force in this track, making the small instrument sing to the heavens. Shooter is next, with a harmonica played alongside the guitar. The lyrics to this one are so wonderful. “Well if I change or if I don’t, I’ll still be in the ground some day. The watery river, paint me a picture, he’ll be on the road last spring…” This song is more delicate than the last but has a different level of impact upon my feelings as I tune in. Still powerful, although more delicate. Showing softness is not weakness by any means. 

Angela introduces the next track “this tune is called Western Skies” as the crickets and cicadas continue to sing their own merry song in the background, she moves into her next tale. I can hear her fingers across the strings in this one. I close my eyes and I can see them. A mention of an “old oak tree” and “western skies” sets the backdrop in my mind for this song and this story. I do so love a musical tale delivered this way. 

Texas Blue Jeans begins with a strong chord progression and a delicate yet strong vocal. A tapping here and there on the guitar for that echoing drum beat sound. I am getting Dolly Parton vibes here. Frighten Me Babe sounds to me like a slightly twisted kind of love song of sorts? Starting off slow and bluesy and speeding up towards the end. “You know I’m gon’ have to leave you…” 

Captain is a favourite from this album full of tales and tunes. The gorgeous guitar work at the beginning of the track and the soft cotton candy like vocal and a tale that tells me secrets, it’s all the things I Iove rolled into one. “Captain Oh Captain, are you lost at sea?…” Lonesome Traveller is the next song and it is clear by now Angela’s multifaceted country/folk style vocal is well warmed up as her voice effortlessly flows in highs and lows. I could listen to her for days on end. 

Angeline The Baker sets off on an upbeat scene, guitar plucking and a tale of a baker woman and her life. Like a storybook fairytale, I could imagine reading this tale in a book of short stories. I love this track so much. I enjoy each moment of this last track before this beautifully delivered album comes to an end. 

I am unsure of Angela’s age. Though age is, after all, just a number and does not really matter. However, It seems she is quite young. Though her music, her talent, her storytelling ability seems to me, to go far beyond her earth side years. An old soul perhaps? Depends what you believe there. But her talent is something incredibly special and something I feel has been with her for many, many moons gone by. 

I thoroughly enjoyed taking some time out of my day to sit with this album. I highly recommend you spend some time with it too. Uninterrupted time. Tune in and enjoy. 

Thank you for your music Angela. Thank you for ‘The Magnolia Sessions’. 

Angela Autumn’s ‘The Magnolia Sessions’ is out now. You can purchase your copy HERE.

I will leave you with a quote about this recording from Angela herself:

“We recorded The Magnolia Sessions last Autumn, after a year of full-blown heartache and grief for the collective. The proverbial harvest from those thin times were these very songs, which are as close to me as the flesh on my ribs. Most of them were written in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Nashville… and under that Magnolia tree in Dan’s backyard, I turned my voice and heart towards the cicadas, in what felt like a final act of birth.”

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With thanks to Earsplit PR

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