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”

Kelly Sloan, The Bellows at The Wheelwright Inn, Colyford, 11th April 2017

The schedule of a touring musician is a thing of mystery at times.  Here we find Kelly Sloan, one of what seems to be a never-ending stream of talented singer-songwriters emanating from Canada, playing to a rapt audience at the wonderfully welcoming and intimate setting of The Bellows at The Wheelwright Arms in Colyford, East Devon (population 550). The next steps on her tour; Milan and various stops around Italy, Sicily, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Credit for how Colyford became a part of that itinerary is down to establishment hosts Mark Newton and Kirstin Reynolds who, judging by the posters of past and future headliners adorning the walls, have an irresistible lure to the discerning musician. Continue reading “Kelly Sloan, The Bellows at The Wheelwright Inn, Colyford, 11th April 2017”

Justin Bernasconi “Barefoot Wonderland” (Mountain King Music, 2017)

Although born in England Justin Bernasconi relocated to Australia in 2004 and formed The Stillsons in 2006. After three critically acclaimed albums he released his solo debut album Winter Pick in 2014, receiving a host of glowing reviews in the process. Justin returns now after a three-year gap with Barefoot Wonderland which is a mix of solo numbers and the accompaniments of band members Cat Canteri (vocals, Gibson Hummingbird guitar), Pete Fidler (Collings mandolin, Sheerhorn dobro), Ben Franz (double bass) and Jeff Lang (vocal). The result is a showcase for Justin’s spellbinding ability with his extensive guitar collection. Whether it be his 1960s Harmony Sovereign on Restless Legs Rag or his Martin D-28 7-string guitar on the title track Justin demonstrates just what a talent he is with whatever is put in his hand. Continue reading “Justin Bernasconi “Barefoot Wonderland” (Mountain King Music, 2017)”