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)”

Old Crow Medicine Show “50 Years of Blonde on Blonde” (Columbia, 2017)

This was always going to be a major undertaking anyway you dice it. Old Crow Medicine Show, all fiddles and banjos, decided to perform Dylan’s iconic “Blonde on Blonde” album in its entirety to mark its 50th anniversary. The members of this band weren’t even born when the original album was recorded! But they’re on record as being huge Dylan fans and that fandom rings through this album loud and clear. First off, it’s worth taking a moment to remember just what an important record Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde is. Continue reading “Old Crow Medicine Show “50 Years of Blonde on Blonde” (Columbia, 2017)”

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)”