Matt Patershuk “Same As I Have Ever Been” (Black Hen Music 2017)

The back cover portrait photo for Matt Patershuk’s new album may make you recoil in horror at the super clichéd Americana-ness on display. Farmyard, haystack, dogs, Telecaster, beard and hat. All are squeezed in. Fear not – they’re actually his own dogs and his own rural Alberta farmyard. Safe to assume the guitar and beard belong to him too. Despite this early alarm, Same As I Have Ever Been is a damn fine record. Continue reading “Matt Patershuk “Same As I Have Ever Been” (Black Hen Music 2017)”

Wilson “Old School, New Rules” (Independent, 2017)

This is a slice of well-crafted, Seventies-leaning pop that’s light on the power but heavy on the catchy melodies. West Country troubadour Steve Wilson is the writing hub of this four piece. Admittedly, they’re quite hard to define musically, but there are places to start. The harmonies (contributed by the band to most of the tracks) are unswervingly excellent, with echoes of the Beach Boys, the Beatles and 10cc. Whilst the music isn’t too heavy on guitar, Tom Petty is brought to mind on the opening two tracks, Long Road and Pretty Girl In A Small Town. Continue reading “Wilson “Old School, New Rules” (Independent, 2017)”

Pierce Edens “Stripped Down, Gussied Up” (Independent, 2017)

Hailing from North Carolina, Pierce Edens’s stock in trade is a folksy grunge. Musically speaking it’s played very well by Edens along with sidekick Kevin Reese – the songs are suitably dark and foreboding. Vocally speaking, it’s a little harder to pin down. The ‘grunge meets ragged lounge singer’, occasionally bombastic nature of Eden’s voice doesn’t always gel with the eerie, acoustic soundscapes too well. To these ears, Pearl Jam stands out as something of a vocal and song writing influence – a bona fide rock sound as a starting point. Continue reading “Pierce Edens “Stripped Down, Gussied Up” (Independent, 2017)”

I Draw Slow “Turn Your Face To The Sun” (Compass Records, 2017)

As American bluegrass/roots music is essentially born of Celtic roots music, the emerging success of I Draw Slow in the USA is no surprise, although I Draw Slow is quite a strange band name – whether it relates to pencil and paper or six gun skills is a mystery hereabouts. The line that separates these two folk sides of the Atlantic, musically, is indecipherably thin, arguably non-existent. The voices of Louise and Dave Holden dart between the shores with ease and grace, showing strength and subtlety in the right places from Dublin to the Carolinas. Continue reading “I Draw Slow “Turn Your Face To The Sun” (Compass Records, 2017)”

Ed Dupas “Tennessee Nights” (Independent, 2017)

This is a highly satisfying slice of blue collar Americana, with grit and grace in just the right ratio. Dupas may be from the home of the Stooges and MC5, but instead he chooses to kick out the classic Steve Earle-esque jams in a contemporary manner not too dissimilar to the likes of Sturgill Simpson. Even the album’s title guides us to points South, as Ed pays respect to the Volunteer State. Continue reading “Ed Dupas “Tennessee Nights” (Independent, 2017)”

Kaurna Cronin “Euphoria, Delirium and Loneliness” (Songs and Whispers, 2017)

Kaurna Cronin is a youthful Australian singer-songwriter. His bio attests to a number of Antipodean folk awards won, yet this, his third album, is very much an exercise in subtle guitar pop/rock. Cronin has a polite airy voice, perhaps reminiscent of the mighty Paddy McAloon, but not quite emulating the lyrical sharpness of the man. Not to say that Cronin isn’t lyrically astute though – there’s not too many clichés in his words, which are the saving grace of this record. The ten songs do largely fall into the cited folk tradition of story-telling and he paints detailed pictures of his characters, their situations and their woes. Continue reading “Kaurna Cronin “Euphoria, Delirium and Loneliness” (Songs and Whispers, 2017)”

The Mastersons “Transient Lullaby” (Red House Records, 2017)

Married couple Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore, the Texan voices and pens of The Mastersons, have spent a lot of their time in recent years as part of Steve Earle’s touring band The Dukes. They even double up as Earle’s opening act. This is their third album in five years. Clearly they’re busy people! For the most part Transient Lullaby is a gentle, introspective blend of country/pop-rock. Continue reading “The Mastersons “Transient Lullaby” (Red House Records, 2017)”