The Handsome Family, The Union Chapel, London, 2nd March 2017

Brett and Rennie Sparks brought a four-piece Handsome Family to The Union Chapel for one of those rare evenings that truly deserve the accolade “magical”. Demonstrating the ability for even a little television exposure to change the size of an audience The Handsome Family have stepped up to a considerably larger venue than on previous tours, and one that couldn’t be more in keeping with their music – on an early March evening when the shadows draw in quickly there could have been no better frame for their musical paintings of the strange, mystical and plain bizarre in American life. Continue reading “The Handsome Family, The Union Chapel, London, 2nd March 2017”

Campbell Woods “Oxford Street” (Independent, 2017)

Oxford Street, in this case, is not the glitzy miles long street of vast temples of consumerism, awash with gee-gaws and superficially attractive but ultimately empty and worthless baubles. No, this is an Oxford Street of attractive clapboard houses – maybe in Halifax or Victoria, but definitely anchored down in a small Canadian city, with easy access to wider country around. That suits the songs – intimate and civic, rooted in relationships, but with an open and expansive feel to them. Continue reading “Campbell Woods “Oxford Street” (Independent, 2017)”

Barbican announces Mercury Rev, with Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Time, it seems, has done its usual trick and flown by – can it really be a whole ten years since musically eclectic label Bella Union’s tenth birthday celebration at the RFH? It would appear so, as this July will see events at the Barbican to celebrate a full twenty years of the label founded by Simon Raymonde. And what a way to celebrate – Mercury Rev (Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper) will take to the stage for an evening of lush and magical music made just that bit more magical and lush by being accompanied by the Royal Northern Sinfonia. Continue reading “Barbican announces Mercury Rev, with Royal Northern Sinfonia.”

R.Mutt “The Dash” (Independent, 2017)

Do you believe in rock and roll ? R.Mutt do. Six years after the release of their last album – the well received Leash on Life – they finally return with a new record that builds on what went before, with some additional refinement provided by the assistance of producer Kevin Blackwell (Sassparilla) and for the mixing Chet Lyster who has worked with the Jayhawks. There’s been some internal changes in the band as well, alongside founder members Jim Dier and Ron Thornton there’s new
guitarist David Smolarek and new drummer Matt Schreier. Continue reading “R.Mutt “The Dash” (Independent, 2017)”

Loudon Wainwright III – Surviving Twin, Leicester Square Theatre, London, 11th March 2017

Coming on to the darkened stage of this basement London theatre, strumming guitar, Loudon Wainwright III unexpectedly encountered a mic’ stand, causing a minor stumble – maybe a Freudian Trip – quickly recovered from. It got an early laugh. Surviving Twin (as you may have read in an earlier feature on Americana-UK) is his one man theatre performance mixing songs, monologues and a backdrop of photo’s and film clips. Continue reading “Loudon Wainwright III – Surviving Twin, Leicester Square Theatre, London, 11th March 2017”

Jim Lauderdale “London Southern” (Proper Records, 2017)

Three decades into his career Jim Lauderdale has achieved, with London Southern, a long cherished ambition to record an album in London. The temptation to do so was driven by excellent motives – he could record at old friend Nick Lowe’s studio and could also avail himself of Nick’s band. The result is a richly toned traditional country album the opener of which – Sweet Time – will have the listener scurrying for the sleeve notes. Is this an unfamiliar Hank Williams song ? Continue reading “Jim Lauderdale “London Southern” (Proper Records, 2017)”

Torgeir Waldemar “No Offending Borders” (Ja.Jansen plateproduksjon, 2017)

Torgeir Waldemar’s second solo album is a simply stunning offering – a beautifully balanced combination of visionary acoustic songs, full of strong and vivid imagery, and more strident West Coast rock songs, sweetly melodic but shot through with bursts of fuzzed up guitar adding depth to lyrics of loss and despairing pain. It’s a pure delight from the hypnotically circular finger-picked opener Falling Rain (Link Wray) to the closer I see the end which sounds like a nineteenth century hymnal reshaped as a devotional love song. Continue reading “Torgeir Waldemar “No Offending Borders” (Ja.Jansen plateproduksjon, 2017)”