Donald Byron Wheatley “Moondogs and Mad Dogs” (Maiden Voyage Recording Co, 2017)

Rear-ended by a car which sent me and my bicycle flying through the air, the kerb-stone rose up and smashed me in the face. Paramedics diagnosed a broken nose, fractured arm, wrist and cracked ribs, and as I lay there bleeding, I pondered that the only other thing to have made such an impact on me recently is this amazing new album by Donald Byron Wheatley. Moondogs and Mad Dogs is essentially a tribute by Wheatley to his father ‘Big Don’, who came from a family of showmen who have worked on fairgrounds up and down our fair land for the past one hundred and fifty years. Continue reading “Donald Byron Wheatley “Moondogs and Mad Dogs” (Maiden Voyage Recording Co, 2017)”

Greta Gaines “Tumbleweed EP” (Big Air Records, 2017)

Don’t Bogart That Joint will probably be one of her favourite tunes when Greta Gaines is asked to appear on Desert Island Discs; and a vaporiser most likely her luxury object. A lifetime campaigner for the legalisation of marijuana and former advocate for the National Organisation For The Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), all profits from her anthemic, proselytising and very moreish track Light It Up featured on her new seven-song EP Tumbleweed will be donated to NORML, Patients Out of Time and Tennesseans United; charities dedicated towards the legalisation of medical marijuana and treating people suffering with chronic health complaints. Continue reading “Greta Gaines “Tumbleweed EP” (Big Air Records, 2017)”

Thin Wire Fence “Green to Dust” (Independent, 2017)

By Odin’s beard! Remember Harry Dean Stanton’s walk through Big Bend, the dusty, desolate Texan desert at the beginning of Wim Wender’s masterpiece Paris, Texas? His dehydrated body with dry, cracked lips, full beard and skin like leather; dryer than a two-month old Nardorcott. Stanton was serenaded by Ry Cooder’s magnificent bottle-slide guitar which Cooder wrote after being influenced by Blind Willie Johnson’s 1928 cut, Dark Was the Night. Thin Wire Fence’s Scared of the Light, was written after they watched Paris, Texas. It’s a song that makes your mouth dry as cotton wool and brings that iconic scene to mind, with the harrowing story of a man out of his mind, stuck out in the desert on his own.  Continue reading “Thin Wire Fence “Green to Dust” (Independent, 2017)”

Toby Hay “The Gathering” (Cambrian Records, 2017)

A quotation from Basho, the sixteenth century Zen Buddhist monk and poet, adorns The Gathering’s inlay sleeve: I like to wash / The dust of the world / In the droplets of dew. Basho, of course, is most famous for his haiku: Listen! A frog / Jumping into the stillness / Of an ancient pond. This album is anything but plop! Listening to Hay’s amazing collection of instrumental six-string and twelve-string acoustic guitar suites, one is struck by his Basho-like attention to the beauty of nature. There is a pastoral feel to his inventive and immersive oeuvre; the result of quiet contemplation, time spent reflecting on the wonders of creation.  Continue reading “Toby Hay “The Gathering” (Cambrian Records, 2017)”

Cranford Hollow “Color/Sound/Renew/Revive” (Swampfire Records, 2017)

If Americana-UK were to judge the merits of a band’s music by the length, density and texture of their beards, then Cranford Hollow would score ten out of ten by a country mile. They are hereby awarded this year’s Bic Disposable Razor Award (other brands are also available) for the best beardage we have seen in a long while. May I suggest they try applying a little Honest Amish Beard Balm Leave-In Conditioner. Your beards will thank you for it, guys. Continue reading “Cranford Hollow “Color/Sound/Renew/Revive” (Swampfire Records, 2017)”

Chip Taylor “A Song I Can Live With” (Train Wreck Records, 2017)

“Good Morning from New York. It is January 11th 2016. David Bowie died yesterday.” Chip Taylor’s voice and delivery conjures up a feeling of warmth and intimacy that reminds one greatly of the late Alistair Cooke and his weekly ‘Letter from America’ for Radio 4. Taylor shares a similar avuncular style to the radio presenter. In a bizarre crime, before cremation, Cooke’s body was stolen and his bones sold as parts for bone grafts by a crooked surgeon, who never told the recipients that Cooke had died from cancer that had metastasized throughout his body, including said bones. Continue reading “Chip Taylor “A Song I Can Live With” (Train Wreck Records, 2017)”

Craig Finn “We All Want The Same Things” (Partisan Records, 2017)

A bag of pot and seven thousand dollars are found amongst her brother’s hockey equipment when he dies unexpectedly, and the deceased guy’s sister reaches out to a friend of her bro, who helps her to get rid of the pot. Thus, are the two main protagonists joined together in the elegiac ‘God in Chicago’ which is a riveting and emotional piece of storytelling by Craig Finn. It’s very filmic: it could be an American road movie by Wim Wenders, Alexander Payne or Willy Vlautin. Continue reading “Craig Finn “We All Want The Same Things” (Partisan Records, 2017)”