Various Artists “The Musical Mojo of Dr John” (Concord Records, 2016)

Mac Rebennack strolled on stage at the Last Waltz to the words “You all know the doctor, Dr, John ? Mac Rebennack. Come on Mac !” And if you didn’t, well you soon did as he gave one of the highest highlights of that evening. This is another evening – Saturday, May 3, 2014 to be exact – which saw a similarly high profile bunch of musicians come together at New Orleans’ Saenger Theatre for a concert billed as “The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac & His Music”. Continue reading “Various Artists “The Musical Mojo of Dr John” (Concord Records, 2016)”

Mikko Joensuu “Amen-2” (Svart Records, 2016)

Mikko Joensuu has set himself a daunting task – to release a trilogy of albums in the space of a year. Having been brought up in his native Finland with a strong religious background, the album series tells in sweeping terms the story of his gradual realisation that there is no deity, and the doubt, angst and anxiety that having this prop removed caused him. Which sounds very depressing – but Amen-2 whilst at the heart of this epiphany has a soaring gorgeous sound that carries the listener along like a starship sailing the solar winds. Continue reading “Mikko Joensuu “Amen-2” (Svart Records, 2016)”

Neil Young “Peace Trail” (Reprise, 2016)

Peace Trail is one of those Neil Young albums that it’d be easy to dismiss as a failure of Neil’s quality control process.  However, like those who dismiss Greendale, Fork in the Road or Chrome Dreams II, that’d be a mistake – Peace Trail on first listen may sound overly casual and unfocused but repeated listens reveal that Neil Young has actually turned in an album of extensive depth and thoughtfulness. Maybe with the odd clunker along the way, but nobody’s perfect all the time. Continue reading “Neil Young “Peace Trail” (Reprise, 2016)”

Chaim Tannenbaum “Chaim Tannenbaum” (Storysound Records, 2016)

Ah, the eponymous debut album marking the emergence of a new talent. Only that’s not quite it this time, Chaim Tannenbaum has been active in music, on and off, for more than forty years. When he hasn’t been distracted by his other love, that temptress the Philosophy of Mathematics, he’s been adding guitar, banjo, a little fiddle and vocals for the likes of the McGarrigle sisters and Loudon Wainwright III as well as contributing the occasional song of his own to their recordings. Continue reading “Chaim Tannenbaum “Chaim Tannenbaum” (Storysound Records, 2016)”

Andy Shauf – UK Dates

Acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf has announced an extensive European tour in February 2017. Starting in London on February 8th, there will be dates in Manchester and Leeds before he heads to the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland. The tour follows his thirteen-date, sold out North American tour, and the release in 2016 of his concept album The Party.  This series of linked songs reminded more than a few people, somewhat uncomfortably, of parties they’d been to…but still garnered more than a few favourable comments right here on Americana-UK to add to those for its predecessor The Bearer of Bad News.  The Party has garnered comparisons to the works of Nilsson and Newman – it’s smart, ironic, lyrically rich and is redolent of that branch of Seventies singer-songwriters.  It’s good.   Continue reading “Andy Shauf – UK Dates”

Cambridge’s City Roots Festival announces line-up

The first ever City Roots festival, an expansion of Cambridge Folk Festival taking place in venues across the city, is set for the first two weeks of February. Featuring a host of names from these shores and beyond, it will culminate in an appearance by Salif Keita – known as the Golden Voice of Africa – at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Before this there will be gigs by the likes of Mary Chapin Carter, Steven James Adams Band, Jim Moray, Mad Dog McRea and others. Continue reading “Cambridge’s City Roots Festival announces line-up”

David Crosby “Lighthouse” (Verve, 2016)

David Crosby’s new release is only his 5th solo album, a number that would no doubt be higher if it were not for the intervening CSN, CSN&Y, and Crosby-Nash albums that have appeared over the last forty eight years – not to mention the derailing of his musical talents in his bleak lost decade. It does represent an upswing in productivity though, appearing a mere two years after his last solo offering Croz. And if Croz seemed very much like a CSN album without the S and the N, but with such longtime musical associates as Leland Sklar, James Raymond and Shane Fontayne, then Lighthouse has the light jazzy feel that cropped up a lot on the last Crosby-Nash album (the imaginatively entitled Crosby & Nash). This is hardly surprising since Snarky Puppy bass man Michael League here contributes all kind of guitars, as well as being credited on most songs for music or lyrics or both, helmed the album as producer and adds vocals that are so very close to Nash that a couple of times the ear could be deceived. Continue reading “David Crosby “Lighthouse” (Verve, 2016)”

Tift Merritt – new album, new tour

The truly wonderful Tift Merritt returns in 2017 with a new album – Stitch of the World – and glories of glories she’s bringing it to the UK for a short tour.  Kicking off with an admirably intimate gig at The Lexington (and unbelievably there are tickets still available) at the end of January, there’s then a series of larger halls across the country including appearances at Celtic Connections in Glasgow. Continue reading “Tift Merritt – new album, new tour”

The Blue Aeroplanes “Welcome Stranger !” (Independent, 2017)

The Blue Aeroplanes return with their most stable line-up to date to proffer up a collection of agitprop poetry set to jangly indie rock. Lead singer, poet and founder member Gerard Langley remains unimpressed by the whole music business model; his thoughts are delivered with an uncompromising aggressiveness – and if the listener doesn’t like it then the listener can take a hike. This is art, and it doesn’t have to explain itself, it doesn’t need to be comfortable – maybe you’ll get it, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll agree with it, maybe you won’t: either way why should The Blue Aeroplanes care? Continue reading “The Blue Aeroplanes “Welcome Stranger !” (Independent, 2017)”

Shirley Collins – Lodestar live at The Barbican

shirley-collins-2016If someone had said just a few years ago that 2016 would see a new album from Shirley Collins, with a live performance of the same in 2017 then there would have been few who’d have given the idea, nice as it would have sounded, much credence.  Yet with the release of Lodestar and the announcement of a one-off gig at The Barbican this unlikeliest series of events is actually going to happen. Continue reading “Shirley Collins – Lodestar live at The Barbican”