Joe Purdy, The Portland Arms, Cambridge, 9th June 2017

Perhaps the events of the previous night gave this Joe Purdy gig an additional frisson – who couldn’t be even more than usually moved by songs asking for – nay, demanding – equality, tolerance and understanding the day after divisiveness and insularity had been so strikingly rejected ? Here, in a small venue behind the main bar of The Portland Arms, was an audience waiting for Joe Purdy to articulate the way that they were feeling – and he didn’t disappoint. Continue reading “Joe Purdy, The Portland Arms, Cambridge, 9th June 2017”

Ron Sexsmith, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 24th May 2017

Late spring London was showing off its finery on an exceptionally warm evening, whilst Lori Cullen was inside the Islington Assembly Hall as opening act for Ron Sexsmith, singing her light jazzy songs – some of them co-writes by her husband and Ron (who provided the lyrics) – that make up her new album. The inattentive and chatty audience aside, it’s the perfect gentle scene setter for the main man. Ron Sexsmith is, of course, a songwriter deep in the tradition of the craft – if I was the kind of person who used the phrase I might say Old School – hell, he even has a slide show from a genuine slide projector to accompany his set. Continue reading “Ron Sexsmith, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 24th May 2017”

Todd Adelman & The Country Mile “Time will tell” (Porch Lantern Music, 2016)

On his sixth studio album country-roots rocker Todd Adelman has a preoccupation with the passage of time, ageing and the myriad changes in his homelands. These missives from rural America are set to a traditional country-rock sound, with rumbling guitar licks, courtesy of Eben Grace, and Ben Gallagher’s piano which can move from subtle and in the background to stridently foreground and more than slightly honky-tonk. It’s a rich and rounded sound that was captured pretty much live in the studio, and all the better for it. Continue reading “Todd Adelman & The Country Mile “Time will tell” (Porch Lantern Music, 2016)”

Harrow Fair “Call to Arms” (Roaring Girl Records, 2017)

Harrow Fair are Miranda Mulholland, of Great Lake Swimmers, and Andrew Penner, of Sunparlour Players, and Call to Arms is their debut release as a duo – and genuinely a duo, Mulholland sings and adds violin whilst Penner sings and is a veritable Captain Manyhands adding guitar, drums, keyboards, banjo and much more. Call to Arms instantly declares Harrow Fair to be a veritable Canadian powerhouse of hoof-thumping Americana as first track Hangnail hits the floor running and never lets up with a booming kick-drum and an insistent guitar hook. It’s a love song of sorts, although it’s a twisted love “if pleasure is the habit and pain is the comfort then what are you ?”. Continue reading “Harrow Fair “Call to Arms” (Roaring Girl Records, 2017)”

Worry Dolls “Go Get Gone” (Bread & Butter Music, 2017)

Rosie Jones and Zoe Nicol, who together make up Worry Dolls, are that rare thing – songwriters who are genuinely living their lyrics. Go Get Gone‘s title quoting track is the carpe diem song Train’s Leaving which boldly encourages with “forget the doubts still troubling your mind no “what if this” or “what if that” / No coulda bins or coulda haves / Farewell, so long, go get gone”. Get out there, and take life by the scruff of the neck, no regrets, no missed chances. And real life has seen the duo up-sticks from moderate success in London and take their catchy country vocals out to Nashville for a shot at the big time. Continue reading “Worry Dolls “Go Get Gone” (Bread & Butter Music, 2017)”

The Unthanks “Diversions Vol. 4: The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake” (RabbleRouser Music, 2017)

The Unthanks – sisters Becky and Rachel – have, over the last decade, become major figures on the English folk scene. Strong on tradition they have also forged new musical paths and travelled along many sidetracks. This latest release is one of the sidetracks,which also sees the sisters forging a connection to the mainstream. In 2013 a series of home recordings of the songs and poems of Molly Drake – mother of the highly regarded Nick – emerged, and The Unthanks have developed these both for these new recordings and also as a live show. Both feature the voice of Molly’s daughter – actress Gabrielle Drake – adding renditions of poems, some standing alone others blended into the songs. Continue reading “The Unthanks “Diversions Vol. 4: The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake” (RabbleRouser Music, 2017)”

Micah P. Hinson has new album & a UK tour in 2017

A few years ago, after several well received albums it seemed as if Micah P. Hinson was more interested in political commentary rather than finely crafted songs.  We’ll draw a veil over his strange opinions on universal health care provision,  and similarly neglect to comment on his characterising President Obama as the murderer of the American Dream and just note that thankfully Micah P. Hinson returns in 2017 with a new album.  He has described Micah P Hinson Presents The Holy Strangers as being a “modern folk opera”.  It tells the story of a war time family, going from birth to love, to marriage and children, to war and betrayal, murder to suicide – spanning all of the strange and glorious places life can lead.

Continue reading “Micah P. Hinson has new album & a UK tour in 2017”