Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives “Way Out West” (Superlatone, 2017)

Sometimes it’s good to get outside your comfort zone and listen to something that you wouldn’t normally expect to enjoy. As the late, great George Michael said – “Listen without Prejudice” Most people know Marty Stuart as the guy who used to play guitar for Johnny Cash and as a big part of the Nashville establishment; a very traditional country singer. If that’s your view this album is going to come as a real surprise.  Way Out West is a fascinating piece of record making. There are some traditional sounding tracks on there, songs like Lost on the Desert could’ve come straight from his Johnny Cash days, but there are relatively few of them and even the ones that do sound mainstream have more than a touch of the maverick about them.  Continue reading “Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives “Way Out West” (Superlatone, 2017)”

Michael Logen “New Medicine” (Back Room Racket, 2017)

Michael Logen is a professional songwriter and it shows. This is both a good and a bad thing; what you get here is an album of beautifully crafted songs – well written, well sung, well played and very well produced. What you don’t get is any real idea of who Michael Logen is and what he’s searching for as a musician. Logen’s songwriting credentials are excellent. He’s written for a number of major American TV shows, most notably country music soap “Nashville” but also for other high profile shows like “Suits” and “One Tree Hill”. His excellent song for “Nashville” was Wake Up When It’s Over (co-written with Marren Morris), which was sung by characters Gunnar & Scarlett and that tells you a lot about his writing style. That song’s not on “New Medicine” but there are plenty of similar songs here – romantic ballads, drawing on Americana influences but with a strong classic pop feel.  Continue reading “Michael Logen “New Medicine” (Back Room Racket, 2017)”

The Lonetones “Dumbing It All Down” (The Lonetones, 2017)

This is quite a hard album to review because it’s really an album of two halves. The Lonetones, hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, are essentially the band of husband and wife duo Sean McCollough and Steph Gunnoe. They front the band and all the tracks on the album are written by them – but not together. So you get 6 tracks from husband Sean and seven from wife Steph – and they sound like they should be on two separate albums.  Continue reading “The Lonetones “Dumbing It All Down” (The Lonetones, 2017)”

Richard Laviolette “Taking The Long Way Home” (You’ve Changed Records, 2017)

This is a good record – nicely written, songs performed well, you can’t really want for much more! Richard Laviolette is the real deal, a singer-songwriter from Ontario, Canada, Taking the Long Way Home is his eighth album since his debut recording (Mary Carl) in 2005 and it’s clear that he’s honed his craft over those intervening twelve years. These are songs about family and friends, about love and loss, about strong characters and about a sense of mortality – all human life is here. Laviolette clearly draws on his own experiences as the inspiration for his songs and, along with some serious heart searching, there’s also some philosophising and not a little humour – My Grandma’s More Punk (Than Most Punks I know) certainly raises a smile on the title alone.  Continue reading “Richard Laviolette “Taking The Long Way Home” (You’ve Changed Records, 2017)”

No Line North “Dreams of Trees, Part 1” (Twin Lakes, 2017)

This is, effectively, an EP – just five tracks – but Part 2 is scheduled for release later this year and will “maintain its folk leanings and delve more heavily into garage rock”. Meanwhile Dreams of Trees Part 1 will be available digitally and on limited edition cd from the end of April (April 28). The press release calls this a “uniquely unified sound….transcending and bending genres…” so there is an obvious level of expectation which, on first listening, this recording really doesn’t deliver. Continue reading “No Line North “Dreams of Trees, Part 1” (Twin Lakes, 2017)”

Arty Hill “Live: Church on Saturday Night” (Independent, 2017)

Oh yes, this’ll get the party started! If you like your Honk with a fair bit of Tonk – and vice versa – then Arty Hill’s new live album is going to be right up your gardenia lined Avenue. This is what a live album should be, gritty and down to earth; you really feel like you’re at a Saturday night gig. Arty’s sound is a little bit Nashville but with a lot of that Bakersfield earthiness thrown in – a bit reminiscent of Buck Owens or his modern day disciple, Dwight Yoakum; so it was more than a bit of a surprise to discover that Arty Hill and his excellent band, The Long Gone Daddys, hail from Baltimore. Continue reading “Arty Hill “Live: Church on Saturday Night” (Independent, 2017)”

The Andrew Collins Trio “And It Was Good” (Independent, 2017)

This is a difficult album to review simply because I’ve never heard anything quite like it before. For a start, it’s totally instrumental; unusual in the Americana genre, though the music does have its roots quite firmly in Bluegrass.  It’s also a concept album, something else that’s quite rare in this genre. And not just any old concept – this album takes the rather grand biblical story of creation as its theme. You certainly can’t accuse Andrew Collins and his band mates, Mike Mezzatesta and James McEleney of lacking ambition. Continue reading “The Andrew Collins Trio “And It Was Good” (Independent, 2017)”