James McArthur and The Head Gardeners “Burnt Moth” (Moorland Records, 2016)

“Burnt Moth” is the second album from James McArthur, former drummer for Paul Weller’s touring band. It follows his well received “Strange Readings from the Weather Station”. And it is more of the same. This is a pastoral, proggy folk dappled with some beautiful embellishments in the form of some excellent strings and restrained melodies. It comes as no surprise that Joey Magill of Syd Arthur (the current riders of the crest of the prog mini revival) is in the very small roster of musicians that play on this interesting and sometimes arresting album. The album opens with 14 seconds and What The Day Holds, both reminiscent of Grantchester Meadows Floyd with strings to the fore on a bed of acoustic guitar and whispered vocals. Continue reading “James McArthur and The Head Gardeners “Burnt Moth” (Moorland Records, 2016)”

Pilote “Libero” (Micro Spiral, 2016)

Producer Stuart Cullen is Pilote and this is his 7th album of self penned ditties and tasteful covers all filtered through a folky country prism with plenty of waltztime melodies as well as banjos, harmoniums, fiddles and even spoons. It is, as expected, beautifully produced with some nifty touches – the electronica insert in Train on the Island and the rumbling back beat on Baby is a Hybrid which gives it a 70’s Moroder vibe despite the blue grass banjo and fuzzed guitar. Continue reading “Pilote “Libero” (Micro Spiral, 2016)”

Various Guises “Tide Take Him” (Independent, 2016)

Various Guises are modern folkies – a duo featuring Blanche Ellis and Maya McCourt. ‘Tide Take Him Out’ is their debut EP. A short glimpse into a world of gothic flecked acapella suffused with sparse instrumentation. There is mournful cello beneath the intimate vocal harmonies and gently strummed guitar on the second track Green. Willow follows the same template with strong vocals and lyrics coloured by the cello played with a fierce verve. But this is not enough to develop these songs. There needs to be more of a palette to properly reflect the songs. Continue reading “Various Guises “Tide Take Him” (Independent, 2016)”

Rainbrother “Tales From The Drought” (General Bird, 2017)

Opening with a joyful and instantly memorable piano motif on the track Riverside, ‘Tales from the Drought’ announces its intentions from the get go. Bjarke Bendtsen performing as Rainbrother has produced an album of delightful melodies, sparkling song writing and affecting sounds. The aforementioned Riverside is a complex yearning narrative build around the ebb and flow of the repeated piano motif – worthy of some serious airplay. East African Dream follows, an instrumental filled with yelps and whoops over a Midlakeish harmony again memorable and insistent with its driving rhythm. Continue reading “Rainbrother “Tales From The Drought” (General Bird, 2017)”

Tim Easton ” American Fork” (At The Helm Records, 2016)

unknownAmerican Fork is the latest from serial Americanarer Tim Easton and it ticks several boxes associated with the genre but somehow the sum of the parts seems to equal less than the individual components. Take track 3 for example: ‘Elmore James’ – great subject matter , clever lyrics, groovy atmospheric instrumentation and production but… it just seems to be – without communicating a feeling and then fades away as if realising its own inadequacy.  Continue reading “Tim Easton ” American Fork” (At The Helm Records, 2016)”

Magic Car “Meteorites” (Tiny Dog, 2016)

magic-car-meteorites-cover-jpgMagic Car are a collective of musicians led by Phil Smeeton, a Nottingham based actor/singer songwriter. They perform from a mixed palette of roots influences mainly concentrating on the folk idiom for the slices of pop dappled sentiments and melodies. There are the country blues stylings of ‘Only in America’ with its harmonica and bottleneck and the swampy ‘Manwhippa’ – a pean to a dominatrix – with its fuzzed guitar and torchy vocals from Hazel Atkinson, awoman with a spectacular voice that is perhaps a cut above the songs she is given to work with. This and ‘Summer Storm’ show off her talents and represent the best of the album. Continue reading “Magic Car “Meteorites” (Tiny Dog, 2016)”

M.Lockwood Porter “How To Dream Again” (Hidden Trail Records, 2016)

Smashing thunknownrough what sounds like a cult singing on the side of a mountain, the album bursts into life on ‘American Dreams Denied’ with a powerful guitar lick that squeals and rocks. It reminds this reviewer of The Pursuit of Happiness. Quickly moving on to ‘Burn Away’ with its steel guitar and hint of Hammond B3 very much a 70s vibe with a lazy Younglike drum beat. Clearly a ‘Time Fades Away’ going on and the strong vocals don’t dispel the feeling as they power the song through the bridge with its lingering guitar. This is classic songwriting beyond verse chorus verse chorus etc. Continue reading “M.Lockwood Porter “How To Dream Again” (Hidden Trail Records, 2016)”