The interesting thing about a lot of tribute albums is where the new artists take the songs. Donnie Fritts was a session musician for Kris Kristofferson for 40 years, and a pioneer in the music emerging from Muscle Shoals. JD Fox, or real name Jan De Vos, is a Belgian artist inspired by the roots music emerging from America, previously having recorded a tribute to Spooner Oldham, another pioneer from Alabama. The cross between Belgium and Muscle Shoals really does have the potential to be interesting, reinterpreting these classic American songs for a European audience perhaps not as familiar with the style as those growing up in the rural south. The record is certainly crafted with love, with a groovy backing well done using traditional instrumentation. Having said that, it does feel that JD’s vocals are separate from the backing, rather than being all part of a greater whole as often happens in live recordings. Continue reading “JD Fox & The Velvet Street Band ‘’A Tribute To Donnie Fritts’’ (Independent, 2016)”
Alison Krauss is phenomenal. Whether you look at figures like her record 27 Grammy Awards, millions of records sold, career longevity or simply judge her from the purity of her vocals, Krauss really is one of the stand-out performers in modern music. Windy City is her first solo record in 18 years, after she took a hiatus to record music with her Union Station band. The album is a tribute to older classics, with tracks such as those originally performed by artists like Glen Campbell, Bill Monroe, Willie Nelson and The Osborne Brothers. With a sensitive touch provided by producer Buddy Cannon, it’s a masterpiece of music re-interpretation and a fitting ode to the giants on whose shoulders present artists stand on. Continue reading “Alison Krauss ”Windy City” (Decca/Capitol, 2017)”
Old Crown Medicine show are known for their amazing and energetic live shows and a fantastic folk repertoire throughout their discography. This greatest hits package comes exclusively from their three albums released with Nettwerk, including O.C.M.S in 2004, Big Iron World in 2006 and Tennessee Pusher in 2008. “Best Of” kicks off with Wagon Wheel their original song made a mega-hit by Darius Rucker covering it, selling it as a multi-platinum single. Old Crow Medicine Show’s version is much more palatable, with real grounding in roots, dominated by fiddle, banjo and folk harmonies. Indeed, Old Crow don’t escape string-dominated roots music for any of the record, and indeed for any of their discography. Continue reading “Old Crow Medicine Show ‘’Best Of’’ (Nettwerk, 2017)”
Who is Levi Cuss? If you listen to this record you might just find out, delving into a dark past and redemption through the salvation of music and poetry. Joining the thriving ”Canamericana’’ group of artists driving Americana music forward and out of a predominantly southern heritage, Levi has created an honest and raw record with no frills and dripped with gorgeous steel guitar wailing to accompany his laments, and great blues guitar to texture his more salacious background, not dissimilarly to Steve Earle in his Terraplane record. Continue reading “Levi Cuss ‘’Night Thief’’ (Independent, 2017)”
You can be forgiven for not having heard of Cup ‘O Joe before. A gypsy-folk and bluegrass trio from Northern Ireland are as far from mainstream consciousness as you’d expect, but that isn’t such a bad thing, because it allows them to continue on with their gorgeous blend of gentle bluegrass picking, beautiful folk melodies and mellow harmonies throughout Bluebirds, this fantastic EP.
Continue reading “Cup ‘O Joe ‘’Bluebirds’’ (Independent, 2016)”
Lisa Bastoni has been around a while, performing with acclaimed artists such as Little Big Town, Lori McKenna and Regina Spektor. After taking an extended break to have a family, she is back with this amazing record, due to be released early in 2017. With every song penned by her, and a few co-writes, this is a record with the Bastoni stamp all over it, and with much of the recordings being done at home as well as in studios in Nashville and New York, there is a very intimate feel to this record, helped by the excellent production by Felix McTeigue. Continue reading “Lisa Bastoni ”The Wishing Hour” (Independent, 2017)”
Written as an ode to an absent father, ‘’Wandering Father, Forgotten Son’’ is an album of many textures, with the stylistic differences between Roy Michaels, the father, and Silas himself being mixed throughout the record, as well as the conflict between the missing father, and the man who is mourned following his recent death. What comes from this emotional turbulence is a very raw and gutsy album, leaning as much into Appalachian folk as it does Texan dance-hall and Americana. Continue reading “Silas Lowe ‘’Wandering Father, Forgotten Son’’ (Independent, 2016)”