Offa Rex “The Queen of Hearts” (Nonesuch, 2017)

This is a really fascinating album. A collaboration between classic English Folk Singer and instrumentalist, Olivia Chaney and American Indie Rockers, The Decemberists, this is a recording filled with fine musicianship and vocal work that seems to celebrate the heyday of British Folk/Rock – if you think back to the early recordings of Steeleye Span, Sandy Denny era Fairport Convention and the likes of The Albion Band, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from Offa Rex. Continue reading “Offa Rex “The Queen of Hearts” (Nonesuch, 2017)”

Bob Keelaghan and Muerte Pan Alley “The Soundtrack to Intersection” (SAP Recordings, 2017)

This is a really fascinating release. It’s actually two soundtracks for two different projects. The first fourteen tracks are the soundtrack for “Intersection”, a short film made by American director Brendan Beachman and the second eighteen tracks (yes, you get 32 tracks on the album) are from the soundtrack to “Inside the Ku Klux Klan” from award winning documentary maker Daniel Vernon. Continue reading “Bob Keelaghan and Muerte Pan Alley “The Soundtrack to Intersection” (SAP Recordings, 2017)”

Ani Di Franco “Binary” (Righteous Babe/Aveline Records, 2017)

A new album from American Folk Rocker and Feminist Icon Ani Di Franco has to be cause for celebration, not least because she is one of the most creative songwriters out there and her music always engages and informs. This lastest release “Binary” is right up there with some of her best work. Written in the run up to the American Presidential election of 2016 it is very much of its time, with songs addressing the importance of reproductive rights (Play God), the need for empathy (Terrifying Sight) and the value of non violent protest and opposition (Pacifist’s Lament) – all themes currently playing out both in America and in the wider world. Di Franco’s work has always contained  a healthy amount of political awareness and is all the better for it.  Continue reading “Ani Di Franco “Binary” (Righteous Babe/Aveline Records, 2017)”

Holy Moly and The Crackers “Salem” (Pink Lane Records, 2017)

Holy Moly indeed! There’s a lot of exciting music on this new release from North East Folk Rockers, Holy Moly and the Crackers, as they move away from their earlier folk-oriented material and explore a darker and more rock influenced direction. This album is a big departure from their previous sound, which was much more rooted in traditional folk rock. On “Salem” they’ve gone for a harder, rockier sound built around a number of songs that are more intense and starker in content than previous work. The results are a bit of a mixed bag – there are some glorious songs on here that really grab you by the throat and pull you in, songs like the opening title track, with it’s story built around the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s but used as a comment on the current rise of xenophobia and hate crimes.  Continue reading “Holy Moly and The Crackers “Salem” (Pink Lane Records, 2017)”

Steve Earle & The Dukes “So You Wannabe An Outlaw” (Warner Bros. Records, 2017)

Back in 2004 we had Steve Earle’s “Beatles” album – “The Revolution Starts Now”; then, in 2015, we had his “Blues” album – “Terraplane”. Now we have his latest release, his “Waylon Jennings” album – “So You Wanna Be an Outlaw”. Of course, none of these are an album of covers or an attempt to sound like the artists referenced; it’s more about Steve Earle wearing his influences on his sleeve and specifically acknowledging them in the way he writes and performs for that particular album.  Continue reading “Steve Earle & The Dukes “So You Wannabe An Outlaw” (Warner Bros. Records, 2017)”

Sergio Beercock “Wollow” (800A Records, 2017)

Sergio Beercock is a man with an eclectic background. Born to a Sicilian mother and an English father, in Kingston Upon Hull, he now lives in Sicily, where he produces his music while also writing for the theatre and acting. Something of a Renaissance Man! “Wollow” is Sergio Beercock’s debut album and there’s much to be impressed by on his first official release. He has a good, light tenor voice that really grows on you with repeated listening and he’s clearly a talented musician, playing the majority of instruments on the album, including guitar, piano, charango, synthesiser and Bolivian flute.  Continue reading “Sergio Beercock “Wollow” (800A Records, 2017)”

Hannah Aldridge “Gold Rush” (Rootsy Music, 2017)

Hannah Aldridge. Remember that name because, I suspect, you’ll be hearing a lot more of it. “Gold Rush” may well be the best “non-name” release of the year to date but though Hannah Aldridge herself is not that well known yet (and it really is only a matter of time) you may recognise the surname, since her father is well respected Nashville songwriter Walt Aldridge – proving yet again that old adage that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Continue reading “Hannah Aldridge “Gold Rush” (Rootsy Music, 2017)”