The Barr Brothers “Queens Of The Breakers” (Secret City Records, 2017)

Welcome to the big time, where everybody knows your name, where they are waiting to see if you will soar on high or sink like a stone because in this game once you’ve made it, the hard part is sustaining it.  The Barr Brothers third record was alarmingly dubbed “Anthemic”, although in truth the term was only officially used in relation to the release of title track Queens Of The Breakers, a ballsy call back to Brad and Andrew’s youth as cross-dressing scallywags terrorising the residents of Newport, Rhode Island and the hilltop mansion of The Breakers where the song – and the album – takes its name. Continue reading “The Barr Brothers “Queens Of The Breakers” (Secret City Records, 2017)”

Aaron Rester “Americayana” (Bear Trap Spring, 2017)

 The last we heard of Chicago based songwriter Aaron Rester was back in 2009 when we, along with the wider music community were hailing a possible new pioneering Americana breakthrough. The Lost Cartographers were country infused with funky guitars and an inclination if not to break new ground then to follow different paths to the same destination with intriguing results. Which brings us to Rester’s new solo project and the distinct feeling that he is seeking to get back to basics but again with very original results. Continue reading “Aaron Rester “Americayana” (Bear Trap Spring, 2017)”

Gabriel Moreno and The Quivering Poets “Farewell Belief” (Amber Records, 2017)

You might find him playing in a smoky underground backstreet cellar bar in the Spanish quarter of Soho – perhaps Mannette Street, where the San Miguel flows and the tapas are passed around. It’s certainly the image that’s conjured when the Quivering Poets strike up. Not that they have any flamenco tendencies or Catalonian sensibilities to their music as such. It’s more the ghost of a flavour – embittered lyrics sung over the folk-noir of an ensemble of musicians brought together from Barcelona and London by troubadour poet Gabriel Moreno, a veteran of 25 years of the ancient tradition. Continue reading “Gabriel Moreno and The Quivering Poets “Farewell Belief” (Amber Records, 2017)”

Hiss Golden Messenger “Hallelujah Anyhow” (Merge Records, 2017)

“Hallelujah Anyhow” is the sixth release by self-styled ‘Nowhere Man’ M C Taylor under the moniker Hiss Golden Messenger. His band consists of an eclectic variety of musicians including Brad Cook, Phil Cook, Chris Boerner, Josh Kaufman, Darren Jessee, Michael Lewis, and Scott Hirsch with additional vocals by Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, Tift Merritt, Skylar Gudasz, Tamisha Waden, Mac McCaughan, and John Paul White. Phew! There are some potent names in the Americana world among that list which is a testament to both the song-writing ability and leadership qualities of Taylor that he managed to assemble such a team. Continue reading “Hiss Golden Messenger “Hallelujah Anyhow” (Merge Records, 2017)”

Lizzie No “Hard Won” (Independent 2017)


With Hard Won, Brooklyn’s Lizzie No has picked up the musical baton of greats like Linda Thompson and Sandy Denny, spread it thick with a shadowy relevance born of her New York background, and unleashed what amounts to a new sub-genre of folk with a country tinge. It is perhaps surprising that, at least musically, Lizzie has more in common with her British counterparts than her more docile Bowery relatives such as Joan Baez, but a shimmering voice reminiscent of those heady folk revival days of Fairport Convention is a lasting impression throughout. Continue reading “Lizzie No “Hard Won” (Independent 2017)”

Andrew Combs, London Borderline, 9th May 2017

Sixty seconds into show opener Rose Colored Blues and the famously hard to please Borderline feet were tapping. Quite an achievement for an Americana songsmith faced with a London crowd of semi-interested drinkers with a copy of Time Out in one hand and a pint of Pride in the other, but Andrew Combs cuts through mediocrity. There were certain factors on his side tonight for sure. The sound was as smooth as his Southern drawl. From my location at the bar it sounded like a band which blended together like a fine single malt. Continue reading “Andrew Combs, London Borderline, 9th May 2017”

Glenn Yoder & The Western States “Inherited Darkness” (Independent 2017)

Glenn Yoder’s been churning out top-class Americana for a dozen years or so, and is now managing to both move with the times while remaining true to his roots. Since 2013, he’s been working with The Western States, a band of no-nonsense harbingers of swing who know they bring out the best of each other in an environment conducive to foot tapping. Continue reading “Glenn Yoder & The Western States “Inherited Darkness” (Independent 2017)”