Rosemary & Garlic “Rosemary & Garlic” (Nettwerk Music, 2018)

How the Dutch duo of Anne van den Hoogen and Dolf Smolenaers came up with the name Rosemary & Garlic is anybody’s guess.  Suffice to say that this own goal is best overlooked as it is the only aspect of this marvellous debut album that fails to impress. The opening track Birds opens with a gorgeous piano intro lasting close to a minute and a half before Anne’s vocals kick in and, if an opener was ever an advert for what is to come, then this is it. Haunting and brilliantly evocative vocals layered around Dolf’s memorable keys create a canvas rich in atmosphere and melancholy. Continue reading “Rosemary & Garlic “Rosemary & Garlic” (Nettwerk Music, 2018)”

Hunter Muskett “That Was Then This Is Now” (Limefield, 2013)

In 1969 The Beatles released Abbey Road, 150,000 attended the second Isle of Wight Festival, Lulu shared first place in the Eurovision with Boom Bang-a-Bang and, somehow absent from the Wikipedia entry for that year, Chris George, Terry Hiscock and Doug Morter formed Hunter Muskett. A year later, following a signing to Decca and the release of their first album, bass player Rog Trevitt joined to become the fourth musketeer. A second album followed in 1973 before the band called it a day the following year. Continue reading “Hunter Muskett “That Was Then This Is Now” (Limefield, 2013)”

The Sideshow Tragedy “The View From Nowhere” (DixieFrog/Borderline Blues, 2017)

Listening to The View From Nowhere it is extremely difficult to come to terms with the fact that The Sideshow Tragedy comprises just two members in Nathan Singleton and Jeremy Harrell. The sound created by Singleton’s guitars and Harrell’s drums and percussion is akin to that of a full four or five-piece outfit. Heavily influenced by his father’s fanatical devotion to acoustic blues and National resonator guitars Singleton grew up playing in blues clubs in East Texas. Whilst devouring old blues music Nathan found himself similarly drawn to rock, punk, funk, new wave and, with influences such as Dylan, Iggy Pop and Keith Richards, the result is a duo with a heavy indie, blues, rock, roots sound. Continue reading “The Sideshow Tragedy “The View From Nowhere” (DixieFrog/Borderline Blues, 2017)”

Red River Dialect “Broken Stay Open Sky” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2018)

Red River Dialect have their roots in the depths of Cornwall. David Morris started writing songs in 2002 and, from 2006, most of these songs were performed as Red River Dialect, either solo or with a revolving configuration of local musicians. The subsequent years have seen the band grow and develop into their current guise of a six-piece delivering songs, that, in their own words, are ‘brewing a lightly carbonated folk-rock from the psycho spiritual malt of David Morris’s song writing.’ Continue reading “Red River Dialect “Broken Stay Open Sky” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2018)”

Ange Hardy “Bring Back Home” (Story Records, 2017)

A turbulent and sometimes tragic childhood was the prelude to 14-year-old Ange Hardy running away from a children’s home in Somerset and finding herself homeless on the streets of Ireland. Handed a guitar as a chance to move from begging to busking for a living, music became a counsellor for Ange. Bring Back Home is the sixth studio album from the BBC Radio 2 Folk award nominated singer-songwriter and, by her own admission, many of these songs are set within the same fictional landscape that permeates much of her output. So it is that we have an opening track, Sisters Three, with the jauntily upbeat accompaniment disguising the mystical undertones of the song which is, at its heart, a folk story about the origin of good and evil in the heart of mankind. Continue reading “Ange Hardy “Bring Back Home” (Story Records, 2017)”

Joshua Hyslop “Echos” (Nettwerk Music, 2018)

On first hearing the dulcet tones of Canadian singer-songwriter Joshua Hyslop it would be easy, and not a little bit lazy, to file him away as radio friendly, middle of the road and unremarkable. His voice could have been made to fit snugly and comfortably within the mainstream Radio 2 playlist. However, get past the first two tracks and with track number three Home Hyslop raises the bar and starts to demand attention. Unremarkable becomes distinctive and soulful. The musical accompaniment becomes a subtle complement to the songs, as highlighted by the brief but effective harmonica on Long Way Down and Lighter Than a Stone. The album settles into a lovely, laid back rhythm, mostly acoustically driven and understated in a way that allows Hyslop’s vocals to really get under the skin. Continue reading “Joshua Hyslop “Echos” (Nettwerk Music, 2018)”

Pete McClelland “Carolina Sky” (Hobgoblin Records, 2017)

Pete McClelland is a busy man. He is a member of two folk bands, The Blackthorn Band and ThingumaJig as well as being a founder member of country outfit Montana Rain. Along with wife Mannie he has spent much of the last 40 years criss-crossing North America and, if journeys of that magnitude were bound to open his ears to a vast range of musical influences, then it is firmly in country, and Nashville in particular, that McClelland has pitched his flag on this debut solo release. Continue reading “Pete McClelland “Carolina Sky” (Hobgoblin Records, 2017)”

Case Garrett “Aurora” (Independent, 2017)

Born in Missouri, with an itinerant upbringing, Case Garrett has taken a long road to get to the point where he is able to release his debut album. Playing music before he reached double figures and in his own band by the age of 10, Garrett soon fell into a familiar mix of music and alcohol. With the early death of both brother and sister from ‘drinking and such’, and with a young son to support, he turned back from the brink and found a bedrock in his music. Continue reading “Case Garrett “Aurora” (Independent, 2017)”

Jessica Lea Mayfield “Sorry Is Gone” (ATO Records, 2017)

There are times when great pieces of music can be produced out of the most unlikely source material. As, in her own words, the poisonous marriage of Jessica Lea Mayfield unfolded before her eyes, she started to write lyrics that began to reclaim her life as she reflected on years of domestic abuse. As the songs took shape they acted as therapy and the end product is a searingly open and honest piece of work. Continue reading “Jessica Lea Mayfield “Sorry Is Gone” (ATO Records, 2017)”

Thunder and Rain “Start Believing” (Independent, 2017)

Thunder and Rain are a four piece from Golden, Colorado who describe their music as an exploration of rock and country music using bluegrass level acoustic musicianship. There are songs here, particularly those that highlight the mandolin of Pete Weber and the lap steel of Chris Herbst, where the music does indeed have a hint of bluegrass running through it but the overall feel of the album is more akin to country pop. Continue reading “Thunder and Rain “Start Believing” (Independent, 2017)”