Dirty Dozen: Delta Howl

Delta Howl are Grant Ashman & Mark Neat. The duo was launched their debut single in March 2017, described by Classic Rock Magazine as ‘Lush & folksy, mixing pretty country with touches of Springsteen and stirring guitar slides. Who knew Dudley had such a soulful side’?

Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
We are both brought up and bred in The Black Country and our studio is in Dudley. Continue reading “Dirty Dozen: Delta Howl”

Bob Dylan, London Palladium, London 28th April 2017

This was the first of three nights at The London Palladium, and this pretty theatre is by far the smallest venue I’ve ever seen Dylan in with just a 2,2866 capacity: Wembley Arena or The Dome this is not. Which means that even up in the Upper Circle the seats aren’t really that far from the stage – probably equivalent to being a dozen rows back in the stalls. The view of the stage – and hence the view of the band – is just perfect. Even during dimly lit sections it’s possible to pick out Dylan’s facial asides to the band – well, when they aren’t obscured by his wide brimmed hat. Continue reading “Bob Dylan, London Palladium, London 28th April 2017”

Whybirds to play final shows this Summer

It feels like the end of an era as, after eleven years, the acclaimed Bedford-based Americana band have decided to call it a day.  The decision has been based on life commitments, which have led the the band to decide to go on an indefinite hiatus.  Which doesn’t rule out a triumphal return somewhere down the line. Whilst all things must pass, the Whybirds are going out with a bang with a set of final dates starting at the end of June. Continue reading “Whybirds to play final shows this Summer”

Aimee Mann “Mental Illness” (Superego Records, 2017)

The work of Aimee Mann has decorated the pages of this site almost from our inception. Mann is one of our touchstones, a yardstick for other female performers. Her work is rarely less than exceptional, and this effort is no different. It is softer and gentler, more acoustic, but the barbs and the songwriting are as strong as ever. If you had to characterise her work in one word, I’d go for melancholy and here You Never Loved Me is melancholy in a nutshell, quiet, elegant with a simmering ache of strings and velvety violent percussion, nailing those feelings; hangs, draws and quarters them. Continue reading “Aimee Mann “Mental Illness” (Superego Records, 2017)”

Danny & the Champs announce UK dates – September

We posted a new track by Danny & the Champions of the World yesterday, the rather lovely “Swift Street” and they’ve now announced some UK dates to promote the new album “Brilliant Light” which will be out on June 23rd stretching over 2 discs, or a limited edition triple album with instrumentals for good measure. The record has been described as “Danny George Wilson’s All Things Must Pass.”  Producer and bass player Chris Clarke says outright it’s the best record the band has come up with so far while for Danny it’s “a bit like taking a peek into somebody’s house, there’s great stuff that immediately grabs your attention and then there’s other stuff and you start out thinking it might be a bit mundane, but as the whole picture takes shape it proves to be incredibly beautiful”.  Here are those dates, with support from William the Conqueror (artist not the historical figure) Continue reading “Danny & the Champs announce UK dates – September”

Kelly Sloan “Big Deal” (Independent, 2016)

Hailing from Almonte, Canada, Kelly Sloan’s third studio album sees her take a grittier approach to her self-penned songs than her previous, more acoustic offerings. To this end she has added Jordan Murphy (drums, percussion) and Adam Ledrew (bass) to that of long-time collaborator Curtis Chaffey. Perhaps, unsurprisingly considering her classical background, Kelly has a terrific vocal range and, when the song demands the most minimal accompaniment, her talents in this regard come to the fore. Your Only Ride is the obvious highlight in this category. A statement about the need to live life to the full and appreciating every day, this is a beautifully sung ballad that allows Kelly to bring the sound of her live acoustic performances to the album perhaps more than any other song here. The production on this track is exceptional with Chaffey’s electric guitar playing a significant part in the overall sound of the track but never in a way that impacts on Kelly’s vocal performance. Continue reading “Kelly Sloan “Big Deal” (Independent, 2016)”

Interview: The Lowest Pair

Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee, collectively known as The Lowest Pair, made quite a splash last year when they released two albums simultaneously. Uncertain As It Is Uneven was a continuation of their previous releases as a banjo playing duo while Fern Girl & Ice Man employed other musicians to create a fuller band sound with both albums maintaining their interest in traditional American roots music. Both musicians had solo careers and backgrounds in playing with string bands but when they met up in 2013 they recognised their shared interest in traditional banjo techniques and started to share bills before formally setting up the band. Since then they’ve released five albums and toured relentlessly across the States and starting this week they embark on their first UK tour. 24 shows over the next month including a stint at The Shetland Folk Festival and a show at Edinburgh’s Tradfest along with a long sweep through England and Wales. Continue reading “Interview: The Lowest Pair”

Conor Oberst “Salutations” (Nonesuch Records, 2017)

The lengthy follow up to last year’s acid confessional ‘Ruminations’ is an expanded version of that self-same album but with added band, tracks and dareonesayit self-acceptance. The bitter starkness has been replaced and perhaps displaced by an album that gladdens the heart and stimulates the brain. Lyrically Oberst has always been able to skewer his own inadequacies in the face of his life and lifestyle but this reworking has prompted some re-examinations and perhaps relaxations. Evidently working with the Felice Brothers (amongst others) has given Oberst a clear sense of purpose and instrumentation. This is as close to the template for ‘Americana’ you are ever going to get. Harmonica, melancholy melodies, storming choruses, image packed lyrics, guitars and drums, raucous backing vocals, beautiful guitar flourishes, a distinct lack of synths or troubling production, a genuinely timeless feel (although at push it could be 1971!) etc.  Continue reading “Conor Oberst “Salutations” (Nonesuch Records, 2017)”

Danny & the Champions of the World “Swift Street” – Listen

“Swift Street” is the first song to be shared from the forthcoming album (the sixth! how did that happen?) from Danny & the Champs, “Brilliant Light”, which will be out on June 23rd. Danny George Wilson co-wrote the song with Polly Paulusma and Carra Bacon: “Swift Street is the house where my mother grew up, the song is about 3 different photographs – one of me and my brothers playing in a billy cart in the driveway, the second is of my grandfather aged 14 standing with his mother outside his childhood home in Aberdeen – he left for Australia after the Second World War. The third is of my folks in the garden of the house in Swift Street before they left to live in London. Each photograph takes a verse. I was nervous about my mum hearing it, but she loves it.”