Ali Handal “That’s What She Said” (Red Parlour Records, 2017)

Ali Handal positions her herself as a Sheryl Crow with more sass and sharper guitar skills, and she’s not far short of the mark on the evidence of this album of self-penned tunes (except two – one an Ani DiFranco and the other…. well more of that later). The album kicks off with the template – driving southern funky MOR rock. There is a likeable jauntiness to tracks such as ‘Smoke More Pot’ with its double-tracked vocals, a trick that is also employed to beef up ‘The World Don’t Owe You a Thing’. Continue reading “Ali Handal “That’s What She Said” (Red Parlour Records, 2017)”

Lynn Jackson “Follow That Fire” (Busted Flat Records 2017)

It’s no surprise that this captivating album has been produced by the Cowboy Junkies’ Micheal Timmins. From the first note there is that Junkies vibe – all big sounds in intimate spaces with room for the instruments to breath and time for the singer to tell the tale. The album opens with the title track and it sets the standard, Jackson’s measured and aching delivery swooning within the reverb guitar and shimmering cymbals. The pace doesn’t lift on ‘Random Breakdowns’ – in fact it becomes even more measured with the narrative leavened by a delicate piano highlights. Continue reading “Lynn Jackson “Follow That Fire” (Busted Flat Records 2017)”

Karen and the Sorrows “The Narrow Place” (Independent 2017)

Describing themselves as “Queer country trailblazers” tells the new listener everything they need to know about this interesting four-piece, except perhaps the most important thing which is what’s the music like beyond just ‘country’? The answer on the strength of this album is pretty good, and what’s more perhaps should not be shackled by a musical label such as country let alone one based on sexuality. Continue reading “Karen and the Sorrows “The Narrow Place” (Independent 2017)”

Derek Hoke “Bring The Flood” (Independent 2017)

Derek Hoke is a singer-songwriter based in East Nashville but this is not a straightforward Nashville album. A commentary on the dark times he feels are engulfing the States, it was nurtured from fleeting thoughts recorded with a tape-recorder whilst driving at night on the Tenessee blacktop to full album status with the assistance of several friends including the likes of Aaron Lee Tasjan to name but one. Continue reading “Derek Hoke “Bring The Flood” (Independent 2017)”

Jeremy Pinnell “Ties of Blood and Affection” (Sofaburn Records 2017)

A Northern Kentucky singer-songwriter, Jeremy Pinnell builds on the stark, soul-searching of his much acclaimed debut ‘OH/KY’ with a fuller sound and more relaxed delivery on this his second album. This work is still rooted in the classic country tropes of his debut but the songs feel more developed and rooted in the country tradition of the seventies rather than the fifties. The strong, classic voice tells tales of a working life and family all the while punctuated by some wonderfully sympathetic lap steel. Continue reading “Jeremy Pinnell “Ties of Blood and Affection” (Sofaburn Records 2017)”

Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real “Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real” (Fantasy Records 2017)

Lukas Nelson is, of course, the son of Willie Nelson and the Promise of the Real has been his band for the past 10 years at least; this is their first studio album since their epic stint as Neil Young’s backing band on his redemptive world tour of last year and the one before. I say redemptive because the youth and vigour was plainly infectious and Young mined his back catalogue with a delight and enthusiasm not seen for years. Continue reading “Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real “Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real” (Fantasy Records 2017)”

Neil Young “Hitchhiker” (Reprise 2017)

This is truly lost treasure indeed. In the midst of a purple patch (that most artists never see) in the year 1976 Neil Young went into the studio with his drug buddy producer David Briggs. They took with them some dope, some coke, some new songs and sense of artistry that perhaps has disappeared in the interim. With the simple question “Are you ready Briggs?” Young launches into a single night’s recording wherein he laid down 10, in any language, classic tracks. Continue reading “Neil Young “Hitchhiker” (Reprise 2017)”