Ray Davies “Americana” (Sony, 2017)

Ray Davies return with his first album in a decade, if we discount the various Kinks collaborations and choral reworking.  It stands as a testament that everything changes and nothing changes since Working Man’s Café dropped as the newly knighted Sir Ray turns his attention to the country which has had a profound effect on his life, America, yet still manages to return to the recurring themes of isolation reaction to change in the modern world. Continue reading “Ray Davies “Americana” (Sony, 2017)”

David Olney “Don’t Try To Fight It” (Red Parlor Records 2017)

The rules are there are no rules. These seem to be the only guidelines followed by David Olney in the creation of ‘Don’t Try To Fight It’, the latest addition to his considerable catalogue that covers over 40 years recording. Olney is described as something of a ‘Renaissance man’ being not just a recording artist, but Shakespearean actor, writer of sonnets, radio show host in Nashville and online blogger. Clearly a man of considerable talent and interests then and that shines through in ‘Don’t Try To Fight It’, an album that defies easy categorisation. Continue reading “David Olney “Don’t Try To Fight It” (Red Parlor Records 2017)”

Robyn Hitchcock “Robyn Hitchcock” (Yep Roc 2017)

Robyn Hitchcock releases his twenty first studio album, his first since 2014’s ‘The Man Upstairs’, and has chosen after all these years an eponymous title. “It’s ‘Introducing Robyn Hitchcock” he has said, working on the principle that the album will serve as a good entry point for those new to his music. Like it and you’ll find plenty similar throughout his career and if you don’t, well there’s no point in investigating any further. It’s not difficult to envisage many who will be prepared to seek out further work by this surrealist music icon after listening to this as it is a triumphant return. Hitchcock relocated to Nashville in 2014 and the seeds of this album were sown when he was tempted into the studio by producer Brendan Benson who urged him to make a record like the Soft Boys and Hitchcock has responded by delivering a piece of work that ranks alongside anything he has done. Continue reading “Robyn Hitchcock “Robyn Hitchcock” (Yep Roc 2017)”

Michael Rank “Red Hand” (Louds Hymn, 2016)

Michael Rank 2016Michael Rank continues ploughing his exceptionally productive furrow which has seen him release six albums in four years. His previous offering, 2015’s ‘Horsehair’ was described by No Depression as “a superb album” while Americana Music Show stated that Rank was “creating some of the most interesting twangy rock and roll today”. This was both with his original rock and roll band, Snatches of Pink, and his solo career which is usually with the band Stag.  Continue reading “Michael Rank “Red Hand” (Louds Hymn, 2016)”

Josh Birdsong “Simple Geometry” (Independent, 2016)

Josh Birdsong 2016Nashville-based singer/songwriter Josh Birdsong has released his debut EP of five contrasting and certainly interesting songs which seem to comprise a range of influences.  Recorded in Nashville, producer Stephen Leiweke has also stamped his identity on the sound with a smooth and clean sound that allows songs of original structure vital breathing space. Josh Birdsong claims influences as diverse as John Maher, Morrisey and James Taylor alongside the ambient sounds of Tycho. The EP also features the song ‘You and I’ which won the 2015 International Song-writing Competition from over 18 500 entries from around the world. No mean feat but it arguably isn’t even the best song on ‘Simple Geometry’.

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Chatham County Line “Autumn” (Yep Roc, 2016)

Chatham County Line 2016 The seventh studio album from this Raleigh-based four-piece delivers exactly what you would expect, top quality Bluegrass from a band still firing on all cylinders. Formed in 1999 in the North Carolina city, Chatham County Line have been producing thoughtful albums in the traditional style since 2003. Autumn is no exception to this tradition and demonstrates that the string-band format is no barrier to imaginative song-writing. There is a devotion to the tradition of Bluegrass and incorporation of a range of roots influences evident on the album, but also present is the subtle presence of the history of the musicians in rock bands, hence the arrangements may fly a little higher than expected. Continue reading “Chatham County Line “Autumn” (Yep Roc, 2016)”

Roger Roger “Fairweather” (Independent, 2016)

Roger Roger 2016Twins Lucas and Madeleine Roger, a folk/roots duo from Winniipeg Canada, launch their debut album Fairweather which, to complete the family connections, was engineered and produced by their father Lloyd Peterson. Fairweather showcases songs that incorporate the styles of both of the siblings and certainly indicates a real potential. It also shows that they are capable of a range of styles as they generally alternate lead vocals throughout which lends an interesting structure to the album.  Continue reading “Roger Roger “Fairweather” (Independent, 2016)”