Gerry Spehar “I Hold Gravity” (Independent, 2017)

During the 1970’s and up until 1986 Gerry Spehar was based in Colorado and had a thriving musical career.  He played as a duo with his brother George in the 70’s and in the Spehar Brothers Band with both George and brother Tom.  He then performed solo until meeting Bobby Allison whom he began writing and performing with in 1981. During all this, Spehar opened shows for the likes of Merle Haggard, Boz Scaggs and Townes Van Zandt. In 1986 Gerry made what he describes as the hardest decision of his life, turning his back on the music business to focus on providing a stable foundation for his family. Continue reading “Gerry Spehar “I Hold Gravity” (Independent, 2017)”

Sam Baker “Land Of Doubt” (Independent, 2017)

Sam Baker’s 2013 album, Say Grace, was a highly-acclaimed body of work, prompting one well known music publication to put in in the top 10 country albums of that year. It is difficult to see Sam’s latest offering, Land of Doubt, making that particular list. Not because it isn’t very good, because it is, but because this is such a unique album in musical terms that it defies easy genre pigeon holing.

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John Smith “Headlong” (BARP Records, 2017)

John Smith has been lauded as one to watch for some time now, attracting effusive praise from peers and press alike. He has opened for the likes of John Martyn and John Renbourn, guested with Jackson Browne and Rodney Crowell, and played sessions alongside David Gray and Joan Baez. Headlong is John’s fifth album, and the impressive rollcall continues, as he employs Cara Dillon on backing vocals and Sam Lakeman both plays and produces.

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Ezio “Daylight Moon” (Jazzhaus Records, 2016)

Daylight Moon is the ninth studio album in a career spanning 26 years from Cambridge-based band Ezio. A popular online encyclopedia would have us believe that this is a folk music band, but judging from the smorgasbord of musical sounds and styles found on this album that is a far too simplistic description and exposes the limitations of trying to pin labels onto musicians.

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Chris Shiflett “West Coast Town” (SideOneDummy Records, 2017)

Nashville based Grammy award winning producer Dave Cobb is hot. His work with the likes of Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson have garnered a well-deserved reputation for excellence. Thus, any work with his name attached demands our attention. So it is here, with his name as producer and player on the Chris Shiflett album West Coast Town. Chris may be better known as lead guitarist with The Foo Fighters but a few years back he set up a country oriented side project and released a couple of albums as Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants. His latest offering is a solo release but with a talented supporting cast that includes the aforementioned Dave Cobb on acoustic guitar. Continue reading “Chris Shiflett “West Coast Town” (SideOneDummy Records, 2017)”

Kelly Sloan “Big Deal” (Independent, 2016)

Hailing from Almonte, Canada, Kelly Sloan’s third studio album sees her take a grittier approach to her self-penned songs than her previous, more acoustic offerings. To this end she has added Jordan Murphy (drums, percussion) and Adam Ledrew (bass) to that of long-time collaborator Curtis Chaffey. Perhaps, unsurprisingly considering her classical background, Kelly has a terrific vocal range and, when the song demands the most minimal accompaniment, her talents in this regard come to the fore. Your Only Ride is the obvious highlight in this category. A statement about the need to live life to the full and appreciating every day, this is a beautifully sung ballad that allows Kelly to bring the sound of her live acoustic performances to the album perhaps more than any other song here. The production on this track is exceptional with Chaffey’s electric guitar playing a significant part in the overall sound of the track but never in a way that impacts on Kelly’s vocal performance. Continue reading “Kelly Sloan “Big Deal” (Independent, 2016)”

Interview: Kelly Sloan

Although Kelly Sloan is new to these shores her 2016 album Big Deal was in fact her third following her 2008 debut Always Changes and 2010’s Kelly Sloan. Accomplished on both guitar and piano, her influences range from folk to country through vintage 50s & 60s pop rock. I caught up with the award winning Canadian singer-songwriter just before her final UK date of a European tour that will take in Italy, Sicily, Switzerland and Luxembourg.  Continue reading “Interview: Kelly Sloan”