Jon Langford “Four Lost Souls” (Bloodshot Records 2017)

Jon Langford has an interesting and genre-hopping career as founding member of punk icons, the Mekons (celebrating their 40th anniversary this year), as well as alt-country pioneers, the Waco Brothers. Music aside, he’s also a celebrated artist, his paintings and prints of many illustrious music heroes having been exhibited all over the world, including the Country Music Hall of Fame. Continue reading “Jon Langford “Four Lost Souls” (Bloodshot Records 2017)”

Clive Gregson & Liz Simcock “Underwater Dancing” (Gregsongs, 2017)

Clive Gregson’s musical pedigree – not only as the founder in 1975 of his band, Any Trouble, and his work with Richard Thompson, but in the partnership he forged with Christine Collister over five albums between 1985 and 1992 – is well documented. It was during a tour he undertook with Liz Simcock in 2015 to revisit the Gregson/Collister back catalogue that led to the collaboration on this current album, Underwater Dancing. Continue reading “Clive Gregson & Liz Simcock “Underwater Dancing” (Gregsongs, 2017)”

Dweezil Zappa, Royal Festival Hall, London, 10th October 2017

Dweezil Zappa could just be the finest current example of a chip off the old block in the world of rock and jazz. Not that there’s anything wrong in the slightest with tribute bands, but Dweezil playing his Dad’s inventive music is in a different class entirely. He seems almost to channel Frank’s guitar and yet also has a style all his own, albeit one that draws on and takes inspiration from his musical heritage. ‬ Continue reading “Dweezil Zappa, Royal Festival Hall, London, 10th October 2017”

Adrian Bates “Small World” E.P. (Strange Reality, 2017)

Adrian Bates is a singer songwriter and folk balladeer from South Elmsall, an ex-mining village on the border between South and West Yorkshire. It’s clear that his debut solo E.P, titled “Small World” draws heavy inspiration from his birthplace. Hard WorkinMan, the opening song on the E.P. is about a truck driver working all hours to put food on the table for his family, “One day I’m going to get there; I’m giving all I can; success is for the taking, for every hard workin’ man.” It’s a reflection on the difficulties facing so many people in low wage, insecure employment these days, with the knowledge that the hard working man of the song title is ultimately unlikely to succeed in his quest for success. The key difficulties with the song are Bates’s somewhat flat vocal delivery and the rather clunky lyrics which don’t particularly scan. Continue reading “Adrian Bates “Small World” E.P. (Strange Reality, 2017)”

The Orphan Brigade “The Heart of the Cave” (At the Helm Records, 2017)

The Orphan Brigade’s “The Heart of the Cave” is about as aptly titled a record as it’s possible to get seeing as it was recorded it in 2,500 year caves below the streets of Osimo, Italy. The Brigade’s previous outing, the award winning Soundtrack to a Ghost Story, was the brainchild of producer Neilson Hubbard in collaboration with Ben Glover and fellow singer-songwriter, Joshua Britt. It was inspired by a time – the American Civil War – and place, Octagon Hall, a supposedly haunted plantation house near Franklin, Kentucky. Continue reading “The Orphan Brigade “The Heart of the Cave” (At the Helm Records, 2017)”

Paul Brady “Unfinished Business” (Proper, 2017)

With Bob Dylan having declared Paul Brady to be a “secret hero” of his, you know there’s got to be some serious pedigree from an artist in a career spanning some 54 years now. Unfinished Business, Brady’s 15th solo album, features nine new compositions and two traditional folk songs. After a hiatus of 7 years since the release of his last album Hooba Dooba, the music on Unfinished Business is as eclectic as many of his previous studio releases, moving from the jazzy influenced title track, with lovely shared harmony vocals – to more up-tempo, humorous numbers such as I Love You But You Love Him. The latter starts off like a paen to shared domestic bliss with Paul Brady singing the merits of his and his respective partner’s differing interests with clever wordplay – until the payoff chorus kicks in with, “I love you, but you love him.” Continue reading “Paul Brady “Unfinished Business” (Proper, 2017)”

Amanda Ann Platt and the Honeycutters “Amanda Ann Platt and the Honeycutters” (Organic, 2017)

Listening to this record solidly for the last three weeks now, it still sounds as fresh and invigorating as it did the first time out. Unlike the last Honeycutters release, on this album Amanda Platt puts her name both front and centre – and given that she writes the songs and sings lead vocal, that seems only reasonable. The opener Birthday Song was written on the eve of Amanda Ann Platt’s thirtieth birthday when, instead of feeling panicked about the end of her “roaring twenties” she felt grateful for being older and wiser. The lyrics reflect somewhat ruefully on the passage of time, with Platt singing about how, “Every Time It Gets Colder I Get Another Year Older, Start Looking for Lines in the Bathroom Mirror.” Ultimately, though, it’s a life affirming meditation on how time is really a gift because, “I’m just so damned glad to be here.” Marvellous stuff. Continue reading “Amanda Ann Platt and the Honeycutters “Amanda Ann Platt and the Honeycutters” (Organic, 2017)”