SXSW Reviews: Mallin Pettersen, Holly Macve, Abby Hamilton, James McMurtry

While we try to check out as many different kinds of music as possible at SXSW, it’s always a treat to take in a set by a talented songwriter working within the folk/country end of the musical spectrum, and so I always find at least a bit of time to devote to checking out something from those genres. This year was no different and there were most certainly a few talented singer-songwriters who caught my attention this year. Here are some of the ones who stood out:

Mallin Pettersen, March 15, Lazarus Brewing Co.

She may be Norwegian, but Mallin Pettersen’s sound is pure Americana. Playing a mid afternoon set on the first day of Music For Listeners’ series of day parties at Lazarus Brewing, Pettersen and her band impressed with a warm, twangy sound

Holly Macve, March 18, Flatstock Stage

To introduce her song “Daddys Gone”, English singer Holly Macve told the story of the last time she was in SXSW when she got the call bringing her the sad news that her father, who she didn’t know very well, had passed away. The song itself was quite lovely, a beautuful Emmylou-esque performance of a very personal song. Another memorable moment in her set was her cover of “I Will Always Love You”, written of course by another of this year’s performers – Dolly Parton.

Abby Hamilton, March 19, Flatstock Stage

Also appearing on the Flatstock Stage and starting of the final day of the festival for me was Kentucky singer-songwriter Abby Hamilton, whose sound brought to mind the likes of Kathleen Edwards and Lucinda Williams at times. Her standout track was “Trailer Park Queen”, a song inspired by the real life tale of her cousin, who Hamilton noted is “tickled that she’s a song now.”

James McMurtry, March 19, Mohawk

“Rumour has it we put out a record back in August. I heard it’s not bad.” It’s true, James McMurtry did indeed put out an album last year and having given that album, The Horses and the Hounds, a listen, his humble statement on his own work is an accurate one. McMurtry is a stalwart of the Texas scene, with his first album Too Long in the Wasteland coming out way back in 1989. McMurtry’s songs are within the classic story song tradition and to see him play them on the Mohawk stage on the final official night of programming made for a satisfying end to my SouthBy experience for this year.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest